Skip to main content

Full text of "Speeches of John C. Calhoun. Delivered in the Congress of the United States from 1811 to the present time"

See other formats

'^'y' <'^^yy %/^^^V V^^'.o^ 


li^ - 1 • < 

.- %. 

t; -^^d* 



!§?,• ^^' -^ '>^i^- ^-^ -^^ "^ 


■^*^ ^.v 


■• o 

%A « ♦ ' 


l^^-f/ y^c^''^ 

A^ %i* • • • 


.0 v', ^ <&" 

.•4 o 


^'-. "-n..^ 



'sm^ff'* ^^y t"^^^^^ ^^^ 'M^^- ^o> •"''yam. 

v4''% i^K*' /"^x '"-^^^^-j^^^^ "-^^^'./^x. 


^^i^^'\. ^•^^^;i>'l%% ^^.^;^^\ ^*' 

^ .4 , 






N E W - y R K : 


18 4 3. 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, m the year 1843, by 

Harper & Brothers, 

In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New- York. 


It may not be inappropriate to set forth, briefly, the considerations which 
have induced the pubUshers to ofFer this volume to the pubHc. ^ The speeches 
which it contains afford the principal— it might almost be said, the only— 
means of knowing the political opinions of a citizen who, for a long suc- 
cession of years, has occupied a conspicuous place before the people j who, 
as a high officer of the government at one time, and as a statesman and 
legislator both before and since that time, has taken a leading part in all the 
great political questions that have agitated the country; who has long pos- 
sessed an almost paramount influence in one part of the Union, and been 
looked upon, in fact, as the chief representative of political opinion in thai 
portion; and who, finally, has now retired from direct participation in the 
councils of the country, only to occupy the station of a candidate for the 
highest office in the gift of the people. The political doctrines of such 2 
man cannot but afford interesting matter for attention and study ; and it ij 
believed that both friends and opponents of the distinguished person referrec 
to will gladly avail themselves of this opportunity to make themselves ac- 
quainted with his views and principles. 

The publishers have only to add, that in collecting the materials for the 
succeeding pages, they have resorted to the most authentic sources. 

^ H. & B. 

New-York, June, 1843. 



I. Delivered in the House of Representatives, December 19, 1811, in the De- 
bate on the Second Resolution reported by the Committee of Foreign 

Relations 9 

II. Onslow in Reply to Patrick Henry — No. 1 14 

" " " No. 2 22 

III. Mr. Calhoun's Address, stating his Opinion of the RelatLQa_which the, 
"^Slates. and General Government bear to each other . . '. . 27 

IV. MrrCalhoun's Letter to General Hamilton on the Subject of State Inter- 

position 43 

V. Speech against the Force Bill 67 

- VI. Speech on his Resolutions, and Reply to Mr. Webster, February 26, 1833 98 
-^ VII. Speech on the Subject of the Removal of the Deposites from the Bank of 

the United States, January 13, 1834 122 

-^-VIII. Speech on Mr. Webster's Proposition to Recharter the United States 

Bank, March 26, 1834 138 

IX. Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, April 9, 1834, on the 

Bill to Repeal the Force Act 154 

X. A Report on the Extent of Executive Patronage, February 9, 1835 . . 168 
XI. A Report on that Portion of the President's Message which related to the 
Adoption of efficient Measures to prevent the Circulation of incendiary 
Abolition Petitions through the Mail, February 4, 1836 .189 
XII. Speech on the Abolition Petitions, March 9, 1836 197 

XIII. Speech on the Bill to prohibit Deputy Postmasters from receiving and 

transmitting through the Mail certain Papers therein mentioned, April 
12, 1836 210 

XIV. Speech on the Reception of Abolition Petitions, February, 1837 . 222 
XV. Speech on the Public Deposites, May 28, 1836 226 

XVI. Speech on the Bill for the Admission of Michigan, Januar>' 2, 1837 . . 243 

XVII. On the same Subject, January 5, 1837 249 

--XVIII. Speech on the Bill authorizing an Issue of Treasury Notes, September 19, 

1837 259 

- - XIX. Speech on his Amendment to Separate the Government from the Banks, 

October 3, 1837 275 

XX. Speech on the Sub-treasury Bill, February 15, 1838 .... 290 

XXI. Speech in Reply to Mr. Clay, on the Sub-treasury Bill, March 10, 1838 . 309 
XXII. Speech in Reply to Mr. Webster on4;he Sub-treasury Bill, March 22, 1838 32 

XXIII. Speech on the Bill to Prevent the Interference of certain Federal Officers 

in Elections, February 22, 1839 352 

XXIV. Speech on the Report of Mr. Grundy, of Tennessee, in relation to the As- 

sumption of the Debts of the States by the Federal Government, Febru- 
ary 5, 1840 363 

XXV. Speech on his Resolutions in reference to the Case of the Enterprise, 

March 13, 1840 378 

XXVI. Speech on the Bankrupt Bdl, June 2, 1840 390 

XXVIl. Speech on the Prospective Pre-emption Bill, January 12, 1841 . 403 
XXVIII. Speech on the Bill to Distribute the Proceeds of the Public Lands, Janu- 
ary 23, 1841 417 

XXIX. Speech in Reply to the Speeches of Mr. Webster and Mr. Clay, on Mr. y 

Crittenden's Amendment to the Pre-emption Bill, January 30, 1841 . 429-^ 

XXX. Speech on the Case of M'Leod, June 11, 1841 442 

XXXI. Speech on the Distribution Bill, August 24, 1841 447 

XXXII. Speech on the Treasury Note Bill, January 25, 1842 .... 462 

XXXIII. Speech in Support of the Veto Power, February 28, 1842 .... 477 

XXXIV. Speech on Mr. Clay's Resolutions in Relation to the Revenues and Expen- 

ditures of the Government, March 16, 1842 439 

XXXV. Speech on the Loan Bill, April 12, 1842 509 

-t'-XXXVI. Speech on the Passage of the Tariff Bill, August 5, 1842 . . . .518 

XXXVII. Speech on the Treaty of Washington, August, 1842 532 

XXXVIII. Speech on the Oregon Bill, January 24, 1843 544 




Mr. Speaker — I understood the opinion of the Committee of Foreign Rela- 
tions differently from what the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Randolph) has 
stated to be his impression. I certainly understood that the committee recom- 
mended the measures now before the house as a preparation for war ; and 
such, in fact, was its express resolve, agreed to, I believe, by every member 
except that gentleman. I do not attribute any wilful misstatement to him, but 
consider it the eflect of inadvertency or mistake. Indeed, the report could mean 
nothing but war or empty menace. I hope no member is in favour of the lat- 
ter. A bullying, menacing system has everything to condemn and nothing to 
recommend it — in expense it almost rivals war. It excites contempt abroad 
and destroys confidence at home. Menaces are serious things, which ought to 
be resorted to with as much caution and seriousness as war itself; and should, 
if not successful, be invariably followed by war. It was not the gentleman 
from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy) that made this a war question. The resolve 
contemplates an additional regular force ; a measure confessedly improper but 
as a preparation for war, but undoubtedly necessary in that event. Sir, I am 
not insensible to the weighty importance of this question, for the first time sub- 
mitted to this house, to r^ompel a redress of our long list of complaints against 
one of the belligerants. According to my mode of thinking, the more serious 
the question, my conviction to support it must be the stronger and more unal- 
terable. War, in. our country, ought never to be resorted to but when it is 
clearly justifiable and necessary ; so much so as not to require the aid of logic 
to convince our understanding, nor the ardour of eloquence to inflame our pas- 
sions. There are many reasons why this country should never resort to it but 
for causes the most urgent and necessary. It is sufiicient that, under a govern- 
ment like ours, none but such will justify it in the eyes of the people ; and were 
I not satisfied that such is the present case, I certainly would be no advocate 
of the proposition now before the house. 

Sir, I might prove the war, should it follow, to be justifiable, by the express 
admission of the gentleman from Virginia ; and necessary, by facts undoubted 
and universally admitted, such as he did not attempt to controvert. The ex- 
tent, duration, and character of the injuries received ; the failure of those peace- 
ful means heretofore resorted to for the redress of our wrongs, are my proofs 
that it is necessary. Why should I mention the impressment of our seamen — 
depredation on every branch of our commerce, including the direct export trade, 
continued for years, and made under laws which professedly undertake to reg- 
ulate our trade with other nations 1 negotiation, resorted to again and again, 
till it became hopeless, and the restrictive system persisted in to avoid war, and 
in the vain expectation of returning justice ? The evil still continued to grow, 
so that each succeeding year exceeded in enormity the preceding. The ques- 
tion, even in the opinion and admission of our opponents, is reduced to this sin- 



gle point : Which shall we do, abandon or defend our own commercial and mar- 
itime rights, and the personal liberties of our citizens employed in exercising 
them ? These rights are vitally attacked, and war is the only means of re- 
dress. The gentleman from Virginia has suggested none, unless we consider 
the whole of his speech as recommending patient and resigned submission as 
the best remedy. It is for the house to decide which of the alternatives ought 
to be embraced. I hope the decision is made already, by a higher authority 
than the voice of any man. It is not in the power of speech to infuse the sense 
of independence and honour. To resist wrong is the instinct of nature ; a gen- 
erous nature, that disdains tame submission. 

This part of the subject is so imposing as to enforce silence even on the gen- 
tleman from Virginia. He dared not to deny his country's wrongs, or vindi- 
cate the conduct of her enemy. But one part only of his argument had any, 
the most remote relation to this point. He would not say that we had not a 
good cause for war, but insisted that it was our duty to define that cause. If 
he means that this house ought, at this stage of its proceedings, or any other, 
to specify any particular violation of our rights to the exclusion of all others, 
he prescribes a course which neither good sense nor the usage of nations war- 
rants. ^Vhen we contend, let us contend for all our rights — the doubtful and 
the certain, the unimportant and essential. It is as easy to contend, or even 
more so, for the whole as for a part. At the termination of the contest, secure 
all that our wisdom, and valour, and the fortune of war will permit. This is 
the dictate of common sense, and such, also, is the usage of nations. The sin- 
gle instance alluded to, the endeavour of Mr. Fox to compel Mr. Pitt to define 
the object of the war against France, will not support the gentleman from Vir- 
ginia in his position. That was an extraordinary war for an extraordinary pur- 
pose, and was not governed by the usual rules. It was not for conquest or for 
redress of injury, but to impose a government on France which she refused to 
receive — an object so detestable that an avowal dare not be made. 

I might here rest the question. The affirmative of the proposition is estab- 
lished. I cannot but advert, however, to the complaint of the gentleman from 
"V irginia when he was first up on this question. He said he found himself re- 
duced to the necessity of supporting the negative side of the question before the 
affirmative was established. Let me tell that gentleman that there is no hard- 
ship in his case. It is not every affirmative that ought to be proved. Were I 
to affirm that the house is now in session, would it be reasonable to ask for 
proof? He who would deny its truth, on him would be the proof of so extra- 
ordinary a negative. How, then, could the gentleman, after his admissions, and 
■with the facts before him and the nation, complain? The causes are such as 
to warrant, or, rather, to make it indispensable in any nation not absolutely de- 
l)endant to defend its rights by arms. Let him, then, show the reasons why we 
ought not so to defend ourselves. On him, then, is the burden of proof. This 
ho has attempted. He has endeavoured to support his negative. Before I pro- 
ceed to answer him particularly, let me call the attention of the house to one 
circumstance, that almost the whole of his arguments consisted of an enumer- 
ation of evils always incident to war, however just and necessary ; and that, if 
they have any force, it is calculated to produce unqualified submission to every 
species of insult and injury. I do not feel myself bound to answer arguments 
of that description, and if 1 should allude to them, it will be only incidentally, 
and not for the jnirpose of serious refutation. 

The first argument which I shall notice is the unprepared state of the coun- 
try. Whatever weight this argument might have in a question of immediate 
war, it surely has little in that of preparation for it. If our country is unpre- 
pared, let us prepare as soon as possible. Let the gentleman subm'it his plan, 
and if a reasonable one, I doubt not it will be supported by the house. But, 
sir, let us admit the fact with the whole force of the argument ; I ask, whose is 


the fault 1 Who has been a member for many years past, and has seen the 
defenceless state of his country, even near home, under his own eyes, without 
a sinde endeavour to remedy so serious an evil ? Let him not say " I have 
acted in a minority." It is no less the duty of the minority than a majority to 
endeavour to defend the country. For that purpose principally we are sent 
here, and not for that of opposition. 

We are next told of the expenses of the war, and that the people will not 
pay taxes. Why not? Is it a want of means ? What, with 1,000,000 tons of 
shipping ; a commerce of $100,000,000 annually ; manufactures yielding a 
yearly product of $150,000,000, and agriculture thrice that amount; shall we, 
with such great resources, be told that the country wants ability to raise and 
support 10,000 or 15,000 additional regulars? No : it has the ability, that is 
admitted ; but will it not have the disposition ? Is not our course just and ne- 
cessary ? Shall we, then, utter this libel on the people ? Where will proof be 
found of a fact so disgraceful ? It is said, in the history of the country twelve 
or fifteen years ago. The case is not parallel. The ability of the country is 
greatly increased since. The whiskey tax was unpopular. But, as well as my 
memory serves me, the objection was not so much to the tax or its amount as 
the mode of collectnig it. The people were startled by the host of officers, and 
their love of liberty shocked with the multiplicity of regulations. We, in the 
spirit of imitation, copied from the most oppressive part of the European laws 
on the subject of taxes, and imposed on a young and virtuous people the se- 
vere provisions made necessary by corruption and the long practice of evasion. 
If taxes should become necessary, I do not hesitate to say the people will pay 
cheerfully. It is for their government and their cause, and it would be their 
interest and duty to pay. But it may be, and I believe was said, that the peo- 
ple will not pay taxes, because the rights violated are not worth defending, or 
that the defence will cost more than the gain. Sir, I here enter my solemn 
protest against this low and " calculating avarice" entering this hall of legisla- 
tion. It'is only fit for shops and counting-houses, and ought not to disgrace 
the seat of power by its squalid aspect. Whenever it touches sovereign pow- 
er, the nation is ruined. It is too short-sighted to defend itself. It is a com- 
promising spirit, always ready to yield a part to save the residue. It is too 
timid to have in itself the laws of self-preservation. It is never safe but under 
the shield of honour. There is, sir, one principle necessary to make us a great 
people — to produce, not the form, but real spirit of union, and that is to protect 
every citizen in the lawful pursuit of his business. He will then feel that he 
is backed by the government — that its arm is his arm. He then will rejoice in 
its increased strength and prosperity. Protection and patriotism are reciprocal. 
This is the way which has led nations to greatness. Sir, I am not versed in 
this calculating policy, and will not, therefore, pretend to estimate in dollars 
and cents the value of national independence. I cannot measure in shillings 
and pence the misery, the stripes, and the slavery of our impressed seamen ; 
nor even the value of our shipping, commercial and agricultural losses, under 
the orders in council and the British system of blockade. In thus expressing 
myself, I do not intend to condemn any prudent estimate of the means of a 
country before it enters on a war. That is wisdom, the other folly. The 
gentleman from Virginia has not failed to touch on the calamity of war, that 
fruitful source of declamation, by which humanity is made the advocate of sub- 
mission. If he desires to repress the gallant ardour of our countrymen by such 
topics, let me inform him that true courage regards only the cause ; that it is 
just and necessary, and that it contemns the sufferings and dangers of war. If 
he really wishes well to the cause of humanity, let his eloquence be addressed 
to the British ministry, and not the American Congress. Tell them that, if 
they persist in such daring insult and outrages to a neutral nation, however in- 
clined to peace, it will be bound by honour and safety to resist ; that their pa- 


tience and endurance, however great, will be exhausted ; that the calamity of 
war will ensue, and that they, and not we, in the opinion of the Avorld, will be 
answerable for all its devastation and raiser}^ Let a regard to the interest of 
humanity stay the hand of injustice, and my life on it, the gentleman Avill not 
find it dillicuit to dissuade iiis coimtrymen from rushing into the bloody scenes 

of war. 

We are next told of the danger of war. We are ready to acknowledge its 
hazard and misfortune, but I cannot think that we have any extraordinary dan- 
ger to apprehend, at least none to warrant an acquiescence in the injuries we 
have received. On the contrary, I believe no war would be less dangerous to 
internal peace or the safety of the country. But we are told of the black pop- 
ulation of the Southern States. As far as the gentleman from Virginia speaks 
of his own personal knowledge, I shall not question the correctness of his 
statement. I only regret that such is the state of apprehension in his part of 
the country. Of the southern section, I too have some personal knowledge, 
and can say that in South Carolina no such fears, in any part, are felt. But, 
sir, admit the gentleman's statement : will a war with Great Britain increase 
the danger ? VV'ill the country be less able to suppress insurrections ? Had we 
anything to fear from that quarter — which. I do not believe — in my opinion, the 
period of the greatest safety is during a war, unless, indeed, the enemy should 
make a lodgment in the country. It is in war .that the countrj' would be most on 
iis guard, our militia the best prepared, and the standing army the greatest. Even 
in our Revolution, no attempts were made at insurrection by that portion of our pop- 
ulation ; and, however the gentleman may alarm himself with the disorganizing 
eilects of French principles, I cannot think our ignorant blacks have felt much 
of their baneful influence. I dare say more than one half of them never heard 
of the French Revolution. 

But as great as he regards the danger from our slaves, the gentleman's fears 
end not there — the standing army is not less terrible to liim. Sir, I think a 
regidar force, raised for a period of actual hostilities, cannot properly be called 
a standing army. There is a just distinction between such a force and one 
raised as a permanent peace establishment. Whatever would be the composi- 
tion of the latter, I hope the former will consist of some of the best materials of 
the country. The ardent patriotism of our young men, and the liberal bounty 
in land proposed to be given, will impel them to join their country's stand- 
ard, and to fight her battles. They will not forget the citizen in the soldier, 
and, in obeying their officers, learn to contemn their government and Con- 
stitution. In our officers and soldiers we will find patriotism no less pure and 
ardent than in the private citizen ; but if they should be as depraved as has 
been represented, what have we to fear from 25,000 or 30,000 regulars ? 
Where will be the boasted militia of the gentleman ? Can 1,000,000 of militia 
be ovorpowfred by 30,000 regulars ? If so, how can we rely on them against 
a foe invading our country? Sir, I have no such contemptuous idea of our 
militia : their untaught bravery is sufficient to crush all foreign and internal at- 
tempts on their country's liberties. 

But we have not yet come to the end of the chapter of dangers. The gen- 
tleman's imagination, so fruitful on this subject, conceives that our Constitution 
is not caiculat«'d for war, and that it cannot stand its rude shock. Can that be 
80 ? If so, we must then depend upon the commiseration or contempt of other 
nations for our existence. The Constitution, then, it seems, has failed in an 
essential object : " to provide for the common defence." -No, says the gentle- 
man, it is competent to a defensive, but not an offensive war. It is not neces- 
sary for me to expose the fallacy of this argument. Why make the distinction 
in this case f Will he pretend to say that this is an oilonsive war— a war of 
conquest ? Yes, the gentleman has ventured to make this assertion, and for 
reasons- no less extraordinary than the assertion itself. He says, our rights are 


violated on the ocean, and that these violations affect our shipping and commer- 
cial rights, to which the Canadas have no relation. The doctrine of retaUation 
has been much abused of late, by an unreasonable extension of its meaning. 
We have now to witness a new abuse : the gentleman from Virginia has limited 
it down to a point. By his rule, if you receive a blow on the breast, you dare 
not return it on the head ; you are obliged to measure atid return it on the pre- 
cise point on which it was received. If you do not proceed with this mathe- 
matical accuracy, it ceases to be selT-defence — it becomes an improvoked attack. 

In speaking of Canada, the gentleman from Virginia introduced the name of 
Montgomery with much feeling and interest. Sir, there is danger in that name 
to the gentleman's argument. It is sacred to heroism ! it is indignant of sub- 
mission ! It calls our memory back to the time of onr Revolution — to the Con- 
gress of 1774 and 1775. Suppose a member of that day had rose and urged 
all the arguments which we have heard on this occasion — had told that Con- 
gress your contest is about the right of laying a tax — that the attempt on Cana- 
da had nothing to do with it — that the war would be expensive — that danger 
and devastation would overspread our country — and that the power of Great 
Britain was irresistible. With what sentiment, think you, would such doctrines 
have been then received ? Happy for us, they had no force at that period of our 
country's glory. Had such been acted on, this hall would never have witnessed 
a great people convened to deliberate for the general good ; a mighty empire, 
with prouder prospects than any nation the sun ever shone on, would not have 
risen in the West. No ! we would have been base, subjected colonies, gov- 
erned by that imperious rod which Britain holds over her distant provinces. 

The gentleman attributes the preparation for war to everything but its true 
cause. He endeavoured to find it in the probable rise in the price of hemp. 
He represents the people of the Western States as willing to plunge our coun- 
try into war for such interested and base motives. I will not reason this point. 
I see the cause of their ardour, not in such unworthy motives, but in their known 
patriotism and disinterestedness. 

No less mercenary is the reason which he attributes to the Southern States. 
He says that the Non-importation Act has reduced cotton to nothing, Avhich has 
produced a feverish impatience. Sir, I acknowledge the cotton of our planta- 
tions is worth but little, but not for the cause assigned by the gentleman. The 
people of that section do not reason as he does ; they do not attribute it to the 
efforts of their government to maintain the peace and independence of their 
country : they see in the low price of their produce the hand of foreign injustice ; 
they know well, Avithout the market of the Continent, the deep and steady cur- 
rent of our supply will glut that of Great Britain. They are not prepared for 
the colonial state, to which again that power is endeavouring to reduce us.. 
The manly spirit of that section will not submit to be regulated by any foreiga 

The love of France and the hatred of England have also been assigned as 
the cause of the present measure. France has not done us justice, says the 
gentleman from Virginia, and how can we, without partiality, resist the aggres- 
sions of England ? I know, sir, we have still cause of complaint against 
France, but it is of a different character from that against England. She 
professes now to respect our rights ; and there cannot be a reasonable doubt 
but that the most objectionable parts of her decrees, as far as they respect us, 
are repealed. We have already formally acknowledged this to be a fact. But 
I protest against the principle from which his conclusion is drawn. It is a 
novel doctrine, and nowhere avowed out of this house, that you cannot select 
your antagonist without being guilty of partiality. Sir, when two invade your 
rights, you may resist both, or either, at your pleasure. The selection is regu- 
lated by prudence, and not by right. The stale imputation of partiality for 
France is better calculated for the columns of a newspaper than for the walls 
of this house. 


The trentleman from Yir-inia is at a loss to account for what he calls our 
hatred to En"land. He asks, how can we hate the country of Locke of New- 
ton HauMMlcn, and Chatham ; a country having the same language and customs 
with our:,.-ive3, and descended from a common ancestry ? Sir, the laws of hu- 
man allections are steadv and uniform. If we have so much to attach us to 
that countn-, powerful indeed must be the cause which has overpowered it. 
Yes there is a causo strong enough; not that occidt, courtly affection, which 
he has -supposed lO be entertained for France, but continued and unprovoked 
insult and injun' : a cause so manifest that he had to exert much ingenuity 
to overlook it. But the gentleman, m his eager admiration of England, has not 
been sulHciently guarded in his argument. Has he reflected on the cause of 
that admiration ? Has he examined the reasons for our high regard for her Chat- 
ham? It is his ardent patriotism — his heroic courage, which could not brook 
the least insult or injury offered to his country, but thought that her interest and 
her honour ought to be vindicated, be the hazard and expense what they might. 
1 hoiH}, when we are called on to admire, we shall also be asked to imitate. I 
hope the gentleman does not wish a monopoly of those great virtues for Englaiid. 

The balance of power has also been introduced as an argument for submis- 
sion. England is said to be a barrier against the military despotism of France. 
There is, sir, one great error in our legislation ; we are ready, it would seem 
from this argument, to watch over the interests of foreign nations, while we 
grossly neglect our own immediate concerns. This argument, drawn from the 
balance of° power, is well calculated for the British Parliament, but is not at 
all suited to the American Congress. Tell the former that they have to coii- 
tend with a mighty power, and if they persist in insult and injmy to the Ameri- 
can people, they will compel them to throw their weight into the scale of their 
enemy. Paint the danger to them, and if they will desist from injiuing us, I 
answer for it, we will not disturb the balance of power. But it is absurd for 
us to talk about it, while they, by their conduct, smile with contempt at what 
they regard as our simple, good-natured vanity. If, however, in the contest, it 
should be found that they imderrate us, which I hope and believe, and that we 
can affect the balance of power, it will not be difficult for us to obtain such terras 
as our rights demand. 

I, sir, will -now conclude, by adverting to an argument of the gentleman used 
in debate on a preceding day. He asked, why not declare war immediately 1 
The answer is obvious — because we are not yet prepared. But, says the gen- 
tleman, such language as is held here will provoke Great Britain to commence 
hostilities. I have no such fears. She knows well that such a course would 
imite all parties here — a thing which, above all others, she most dreads. Be- 
sides, such has been our past conduct, that she will still calculate on our pa- 
tience and submission till war is actually commenced. 


No. 1. 

If rumour may be credited, I may be proud in having you as an antagonist 
[Mr. A., the President of the United States] ; and if I were actuated by a senti- 
ment of vanity, much of my reply would be devoted to tracing the strong, but, 
perhaps, accidental analogy between the style of your numbers and some of 
our public documents. But truth, and not the gratification of vanity, is my ob- 
ject ; and though the pride of victory would be swelled in proportion to the high 


Standing of an opponent, I shall, without stopping to inquire into the question 
of authorship, proceed directly to the point at issue. 

If you have failed in your argument, you have, at least, succeeded in giving 
the question a new and interesting aspect. You have abandoned the rules and 
usages of the Senate, as the source of the Vice-president's authority as the 
presiding officer of the Senate. You contend that the disputed right is derived 
directly from the Constitution, and that the Vice-president's authority is wholly 
independent of the will of the Senate, which can neither give nor take it away. 
It is not my wish to misstate your arguments in the slightest degree, and, to 
avoid the possibility of misrepresentation, you shall speak for yourself. Spurn- 
ing the authority of the Senate, you scornfully observe, " With the easy assu- 
rance of a man stating a conceded postulate, he (Onslow) says, ' After z\\, the 
power of the Vice-president must depend upon the rules and usages of the Sen- 
ate :' a postulate not only false in its principle, but which, if true, would not 
sustain the cause to whose aid it is invoked. Unless the Constitution of the 
United States was subjected to some military construction, the power of the 
Vice-president, in presiding over the Senate, rests on deeper, holier founda- 
tions than any rules or usages which that body may adopt. What says the 
Constitution ? ' The Vice-president of the United States shall be President of 
the Senate, but shall have no vote unless they be equally divided.' ' The Sen- 
ate shall choose their own officers, and also a president pro tempore, in the 
absence of the Vice-president, or when he shall exercise the office of Presi- 
dent of the United States.' — (Const. U. S., Art. 1, Sec. 3.) It is here made 
the duty of the Vice-president to preside over the Senate, under the sole re- 
striction of having no vote except in a given case ; the right of the Senate to 
choose their president is confined to two contingencies ; his powers, after be- 
ing so chosen, are identical with those of the president set over them by the 
Constitution, and any abridgment of those powers by the Senate would be a pal- 
pable infraction of that Constitution. Now, sir, what is the inVport of the terra 
' to preside,' in relation to a deliberative assembly ? Can any sophistry devise 
a plausible definition of it, which would exclude the power of preserving or- 
der ? In appointing an officer to preside over the Senate, the people surely in- 
tended not to erect an empty pageant, but to accomplish some useful object : 
and when, in another part of the Constitution, they authorize each house ' to 
determine the rules of its proceedings,' they do not authorize it to adopt rules 
depriving any office created by the Constitution of powers belonging, ex vi ter- 
mini, to that office. If the plainest or most profound man in the commimity 
Avere asked what powers he supposed to be inherent in the presiding officer of 
either house of Congress, he would instantly enumerate, first, the power of 
preserving order in its deliberations ; next, that of collecting the sense of its 
members on any question submitted to their decision ; and, thirdly, that of au- 
thenticating, by his signature, their legislative acts. I have before said, and I 
regret that I am obliged to repeat a truism, that ' the right to call to order is a 
necessary consequence of the power of preserving order ;' and that, ' unless a 
deliberative body, acting within the sphere of its competence, expressly restrict 
this power and this right, no restriction on them can then be supposed.' In di- 
vesting the president set over them by the people, of any power which he had 
received, either expressly or impliedly, from the people, the Senate, instead of 
' acting withiri the sphere of their competence,' would act usurpingly and un- 
constitutionally — they would nullify the connexion which the people had es- 
tabUshed between themselves and their president; they would reduce them- 
selves to the monstrous spectacle of a body without a head, and their president 
to the equally monstrous spectacle of a head without a body ; and their violent 
act, while it would be disobeyed as illegal, would be contemned as ridiculous. 
But, in truth, the Senate have never thus forgotten their allegiance to the Con- 


There can be no mistake as to the source or the nature of the power, ac • 
cordiiur to your conception. You tell us plainly that it rests " on a deeper, 
holier Lundation ' than the rules of the Senate— that it is " inherent in the Vice- 
president and that, as presiding officer, he possesses it ex vi termini ; that an 
attempt to divest, and, of course, to modify the power 'by the Senate, would be 
to act' usurpingly and unconstitutionally," and that " such violent act would be 
disobeyed as iflegal, and contemned as ridiculous." _ 

These are, at least, lofty grounds, and if they can be maintained, there is an 
end of the controversy. It would be absurd to go farther. An inquiry into the 
ndes and usages of the Senate, after such grounds are occupied, becomes ri- 
diculous, and much more so an inquiry into those of the houses of Parliament : 
for surely, if it is beyond the power of the Senate to give or withhold the right, 
it must stand on an elevation far above parliamentary rules or usages ; and I 
was therefore not a little surprised to find that, after so bold an assertion, more 
than four fifths of your long and elaborate essay was devoted to a learned and 
critical inquiry into these very rules and usages. There can be but one expla- 
nation of so strange an inconsistency, but that a very satisfactory one. You 
lack confidence in your own position ; and well might you : for, surely, power 
so despotic and dangerous, so inconsistent with the first principles of liberty, 
and every sound view of the Constitution, was never attempted to be establish- 
ed on arguments so imbecile and absurd, to which no intellect, however badly 
organized, could yield assent, unless associated with feelings leaning strongly 
lo°the side of power. That such are your feelings, no one who reads your es- 
say can doubt. None of your sympathies are on the Democratic side of our in- 
stitutions. If a question can be made as to where power is lodged, it requires 
but little sagacity to perceive that you will be found on the side which will 
place it in the fewest and least responsible hands. You perceive perfection 
only in the political arrangement, which, with simplicity and energy, gives pow- 
er to a single will. It is not, then, at all surprising, that you should seize on 
that portion of the Constitution which appoints the Vice-president to be Presi- 
dent of the Senate ; and that you should quote it at large, and dwell on it at 
length, as the source of high and uncontrollable power in that officer ; while you 
have but slightly and casually adverted to another section in the same article, 
which clothes the Senate with the power " of determining the rules of their pro- 
ceedings, punishing its members for disorderly conduct, and, with the concur- 
rence of two thirds, of expelUng a member." — (See Art. 1, Sec. 5.) Had your 
predilections for the unity and irresponsibility of power been less strong, you 
could not have failed to see that the point of view in which you have thought 
proper to place the question made it one of relative power between the Senate 
and its presiding officer. You place the Vice-president on one side and the Sen- 
ate on the other ; and the more you augment the constitutional power of the for- 
mer as the presiding officer, just in the same proportion you diminish the pow- 
er of the latter. What is gained to the one is lost to the other ; and in this com- 
petition of power you were bound to present fully and fairly both sides. This 
you have not done, and, consequently, you have fallen not only into gross, but 
dangerous errors. You set out by asserting that the very object of the appoint- 
ment of the Vice-president as President of the Senate was to preserve order, 
and that he has all the powers, ex vi termini, necessary to the attainment of the 
end for which he was appointed. Having gained this point, you make your 
next step, that the right of enforcing order involves that of calling to order, and 
that again involves the very power in question, which the Vice-president de- 
clined to exercise. You then draw two corollaries : that the power held by 
the Vice-president being derived direct from the Constitution, is held independ- 
ently of the Senate, and is, consequently, beyond their control or participation ; 
and that, as the Vice-president alone possesses it, he, and he alone, is respon- 
sible for order and decorum. Such is your summary logic, which you accom- 


pany with so much abuse of Mr. Calhoun for not calling the power, which you 
have as you suppose, clearly proven that he possesses by the Constitution, into 
active energy, by correcting and controlling, at his sole will and pleasure, the 
licentious and impertinent debates of the Senators. , ^ , ^ a 

Let us now turn the same mode of reasoning on the side of the Senate, and 
you will perceive that it applies with infinite more force, though you have not 
thought it deserving of notice. . . 

The Constitution has vested the Senate with the right of determining the 
rules of its proceedings, and of punishing members for disorderly conduct, which 
may extend even to expulsion. The great object of givmg the power to estab- 
lish rules is to preserve order. The only effectual means of preserving order 
is to prescribe by rules what shall be a violation of order, and to enforce the 
same by adequate punishment. The Senate alone has these powers by the 
Constitution : consequently, the Senate alone has the right of enforcing order ; 
and, consequently, whatever right the Vice-president possesses over order, 
must be derived from the Senate ; and, therefore, he can exercise no power in 
adopting rules or enforcing them, but what has been delegated to him by the 
Senate,°and only to the extent, both in manner and matter, to which the power 
has been delegated. The particular power in question not havmg been dele- 
aated, cannot be exercised by the Vice-president, and, consequently, he is not 
responsible. Do you not perceive the irresistible force with which your own 
mode of reasoning applies to the substantial constitutional powers of the Senate, 
and how partial and absurd your arguments in favour of the inferred constitu- 
tional power of its presiding officer must appear in contrast with it J As absurd 
as it now appears, it shall be, if possible, intinitely more so before I have closed 
this part of the investigation. -u • j f 

With the same predilection, your assumptions are all on the side ot uncon- 
trolled and unlimited power. Without proof, or even an attempt at it, you as- 
sume that the power in controversy is inherent in the Vice-president, and that 
he possesses it ex vi termini, as presiding officer of the Senate. Now 1, who 
have certainly as much right to assume as yourself, deny that he possesses any 
such power ; and what may, perhaps, startle a mind organized like yours, 1 af- 
firm that, as a presiding officer, he has no inherent power whatever, unless that 
of doin<T what the Senate may prescribe by its rules be such a power. There 
are indeed, inherent powers, but they are in the body, and not in the officer. 
He' is a mere agent to execute the will of the former. He can exercise no 
power which he does not hold by delegation, either express or implied. He 
stands in the same relation to the body, or assembly over which he presides, 
that a magistrate in a republic does to the state, and it would be as absurd to at- 
tribute to'the latter inherent powers as to the former. This, m fact, was once 
a fashionable doctrine. There was a time when minions of power thought it 
monstrous that all of the powers of rulers should be derived from so low and 
filthy a source as the people whom they govern. " A deeper and hoher found- 
ation" of power was sought, and that was proclaimed to be in the " inherent, 
divine "right of rulers;" and, as their powers were thus shown to be inde- 
pendent of the wiU of the people, it followed that any attempt on their part to 
divest rulers of power would be an act of " such violence as would be disobey- 
ed as illeoal and contemned as ridiculous." I might trace the analogy between 
your lano-uaae and principles and those of the advocate of despotic power in all 
ages and° countries much farther, but I deem it not necessary either to weaken 
or refute your arguments. A more direct and decisive reply may be given. _ 

An inherent power is one that belongs essentially to the office, and is, m its 
nature, inseparable from it. To divest the office of it would be to change its 
nature. It would be no longer the same office. It is, then, a power wholly 
independent of the circumstances how the office may be created or filled, orm 
what particular manner its functions may be exercised. If, then, the power be- 
^ C 


longs to the Vice-president inherently, as presiding officer of the Senate, it is 
because it is essentially attached to the mere function of presiding in a deliber- 
ative assembly, and, consequently, belongs to all presiding officers over such as- 
semblies ; for it would be absurd to assert that it is inherent in him as President 
of the Senate, and then make it depend on the circumstance that he holds his 
appointment to preside in the Senate by the Constitution. The high power, 
then, which you attribute to the Vice-president, must belong, if your argument 
be correct, to the Speaker of the House of Commons, to the lord-chancellor, 
as presidiiig officer of the House of Lords, to the Speaker of the House of Rep- 
resentatives, and those of our State Legislatures. They must not only -possess 
the power, but must hold it independently of the will of the bodies over which 
they preside ; which can neither give nor take it away, nor modify the mode 
of exercising it, nor control its operation. These consequences, absurd as 
they appear to be, are legitimately drawn from your premises. 

Now " out of thine own mouth I will condemn thee ;" by your own authori- 
ties you shall be refuted. To prove that the Vice-president possesses this 
power, you have laboured to establish the fact that the Speaker of the House 
of Commons holds and exercises it, and in proof of which you have cited many 
cases from Jefferson's Manual. 

It is true that he has, at least to a certain extent, but how has he acquired it ? 
This is the important inquiry in the point of view in which we are now con- 
sidering the question. Is it inherent, or is it delegated 1 If the former, 1 ac- 
knowledge that your argument, from analogy, in favour of the inherent power 
of the Vjce-president, would have much force ; but, if the latter, it must utterly 
fail; for, if delegated, it clearly establishes the fact that the power is in the 
body, and not in the presiding officer, and, consequently, not inherent in the Vice- 
president, as you affirm. The instances that you have cited shall decide the 
point. What say the cases? "On the 14th of April, 1604, rule conceived, 
that if any man speak impertinently, or beside the question in hand, it stands 
with the orders of the house for the speaker to interrupt him, and to show the 
pleasure of the house, whether they will farther hear him." " On the 17th of 
April, 1604, agreed for a general rule, if any superfluous motion or tedious 
speech be offered in the house, the party is to be directed and ordered by Mr. 
Speaker." " On the 19th of May, 1604, Sir William Paddy entering into a long 
speech, a rule agreed, that, if any man speak not to the matter in question, the 
speaker is to moderate." So it is said, on the 2d of May, 1610, when a mem- 
ber made what seemed an impertinent speech, and there was much hissing and 
spitting, " that it Avas conceived for a rule, that Mr. Speaker may stay imperti- 
nent speeches." " On the 10th of November, 1640, it was declared that, when 
a business is begun and in debate, if any man rise to speak to a new business, 
any member may, but Mr. Speaker ought to, interrupt him."— See HatseWs 
Precedents, vol. ii., M edition. 

Do you not notice, that in every case the power was delegated by the house j 
that the language is, " rule conceived," " it was agreed to as a general rule," 
" rule atrreed," &c., &c. ; and this, too, in relation to the very power in question, 
according to your own showing? Thus it is established, beyond controversy, 
that in the House of Commons the power is really in the body, and not m the 
presiding officer. i. c. i 

• If, to this decisive proof that the power has been delegated to the Speaker 
of the House of Commons, and is, consequently, not inherent, we add that it is 
conferred on the Speaker of the House of Representatives (see 19th rule) by 
an express rule of the house, and that the lord-chancellor, as presiding officer 
in the House of Lords, possesses it not, either ex-officio or by delegation, as 
shall be shown hereafter, your monstrous and slavish doctrine, that it is an in- 
herent power, will be completely overthrown, and you are left without the pos- 
sibility of escape. 


Should you attempt to extricate yourself by endeavouring to show that, un- 
der our Constitution, the relative powers of the Vice-president and the Senate 
are different from those of the speaker and the House of Commons ; and that, 
though the latter may hold the power by delegation from the body, that the 
Vice-president may possess it by a different and higher tenure, it would, at least, 
prove that you cede the point that it is not inherent, and, also, that it cannot be 
deduced from analogy between the poicers of the two presiding officers, which 
you have so much relied on in another part of your essay. But this shall not 
avail you. The door is already closed in that direction. It has been, I trust, 
conclusively proved that the Constitution, so far from countenancing the idea 
of the power being inherent in the Vice-president, gives it to the Senate, by the 
strongest implication, in conferring the express right of establishing its own 
rules,, and punishing for disorderly conduct. If you are not yet convinced, ad- 
ditional arguments are not wanting, which, though they may not extort an ac- 
knowledgment of your error, will thoroughly convince you of it. 

You have overlooked the most obvious and best-established rules of construc- 
tion. What are the facts ? The Constitution has designated the Vice-president 
as President of the Senate, and has also clothed that body with the right of de- 
termining the rules of its proceedings. It is obvious that the simple intention of 
the framers of that instrument was to annex to the office of Vice-president that 
of President of the Senate, without intending to define the extent or the limit 
of his power in that character ; and, in like manner, it was the intention to con- 
fer on the Senate simply the power of enacting its own rules of proceeding, 
without reference to the powers, such as they may be, that had been conferred on 
their presiding officer. The extent of power, as between the two, becomes a 
question of construction. Now the first rule of construction, in such cases, is 
the known usage and practice of parliamentary bodies ; and, as those of the 
British Parliament were the best known to the framers of the Constitution, it 
cannot be doubted that, in determining what are the relative powers of the Vice- 
president and the Senate, they ought to prevail. Under this view, as between 
the Vice-president and Senate, the latter possesses the same power in determin- 
ing its rules that is possessed by the houses of Parliament, without being re- 
stricted in the slightest degree by the fact that the Vice-president, under the 
Constitution, is president of the body, saving only the right of adopting such 
rules as apply to the appointment or election of a presiding officer, which the 
Senate would have possessed, if the Constitution had not provided a president 
of the body ; and, as I have proved, from your own cases, that the particular 
power in question incontrovertibly belongs to the house, it follows necessarily, 
according to established rules of construction, that the Senate also possesses it. 

You have overlooked these obvious truths by affixing too high an idea to the 
powers of the presiding officer in preserving order. According to your concep- 
tion, the house is nothing, and the officer everything, on points of order. No- 
thing can be more erroneous. The power you attribute to him has never been 
possessed by the president, or speaker, in any deliberative assembly ; no, not 
even by delegation from the body itself. 

The right of preserving order must depend on the power of enforcing it, or 
of punishing for a breach of order — a right inherent in the house alone, and nev- 
er, in any instance, delegated to the chair. Our Constitution confines this right 
to each house of Congress, by providing " that they may punish for disorderly 
conduct :" a power which they neither have delegated, nor can delegate, to the 
presiding officer. What, then, is the right of preserving order, belonging to the 
Vice-president, which you have so pompously announced, and for not enfor- 
cing which, according to your conception, you and your associates have de- 
nounced Mr. Calhoun almost as a traitor to his country 1 

It is simply the right of calling to order, in the strict, literal meaning ; and, so 
far from being derived from the right of preserving order, as you absurdly sup- 

pose, It IS not even connected with it. 1 lie rigJit ot preserving order depends 
on the richt of enforcing it, or the right of punishment for breaches of order, al- 
ways possessed by the body, but never, either by delegation or otherwise, by 
the chair. It is notorious that the chair cannot enforce its calls to order. The 
bodv alone can, and that only on its decisions, and not on that of the presiding 
officer. It is thus manifest, the high right of preserving order, to Avhich you 
make the riffht of calling to order incidental, belongs especially to the Senate, 
and not to the Vice-president ; and, if your argument be correct, the incident 
must follow the right ; and, consequently, it is the right and duty of a senator 
to call to order for disorderly conduct. So clear is the proposition, that, if the 
member called to order by the chair for disorderly conduct chooses to persist, 
the presiding officer has no other remedy but to repeat his call, or throw himself, 
for the enforcement of it, on the Senate. This feebleness of the chair, in ques- 
tions of order, explains why there has always been such indisposition to call 
to order, even when it is made the express duty by rule, as in the House of 
Representatives, and the House of Commons in England. Thousands of in- 
stances might be cited to establish the truth of this remark, both there and here ; 
instances in which all that has been said and uttered by Mr. Randolph is no- 
thing, but in Avhich the speaker waited for the interference of some of the mem- 
bers, in order to preserve order. Such was the case in the recent occurrence 
in the House of Commons, when i\Ir. Hume made an attack on the Bishop of 
London and the lord-chancellor, both of which, as members of the House of 
Lords, were under the protection of positive rules ; yet no one, even there, had 
the assurance to throw the responsibility on the presiding officer. The parti- 
sans of power in our country have the honour of leading in these new and dan- 
gerous attacks on the freedom of debate. 

Some men, of honest intention, have fallen info the error about the right of 
the Vice-president to preserve order independently of the Senate, because the 
judges, or, as they express it, the presiding officer in the courts of justice pos- 
sess the right. A moment's reflection will show the fallacy. There is not the 
least analogy between the rights and duties of a judge and those of a presiding 
officer in a deliberative assembly. The analogy is altogether the other way. 
It is between the court and the house. In fact, the latter is often called a 
court, and there is a very strict resemblance, in the point under consideration, 
between what may be called a parliamentary court and a court of justice. They 
both have the right of causing their decision to be respected, and order and de- 
corum to he obscn-ed in their presence, by punishing those who offend. But 
■who ever heard of the speaker or Vice-president punishing for disorderly con- 
duct ? The utmost power they can exercise over disorderly conduct, even in 
the lobby or gallery, is to cause it to be suppressed, for the time, by the ser- 

Enough has been said, though the subject is far from bemg exhausted, to de- 
monstrate that your views of the relative powers and duties of the Vice-pres- 
ident and the Senate, in relation to the point in question, are wholly erroneous. 
It remains to be shown that your opinions (for arguments they cannot be call- 
ed) are dangerous to our liberty, and that they are in conflict with the first prin- 
ciples of our government. I do not attribute to you, or those with whom you 
are associated, any deep-laid design against public liberty. Such an attempt^ 
as flagitious as it may be, requires a sagacity and boldness quite beyond what 
•we have now to apprehend from those in power. But that there exists, at the 
present time, a selfish and greedy appetite to get and to hold office, and that, 
to effect their grovelling objects, doctrines slavish and dangerous are daily prop- 
agated, cannot be doubted by even careless observers. The freedom of de- 
bate is instinctively dreaded by the whole corps, high and low, of those who 
make a speculation of politics ; and well they may : for it is the oreat and 
only effectual means of detecting and holding up to public scorn everj-machi- 

of the press, the trial by jury, the rights of conscience, and the writ ot habeas 
corpus, in the estimation of those who are capable of forming a correct estimate 
of the value of freedom, and the best means of preserving it. Against this pal- 
ladium of liberty your blows are aimed ; and, to do you justice, it must be ac- 
knowledgeJ, if the energy be not great, the direction is not destitute of skill. 
If you could succeed in establishing the points which you labour, that the Vice- 
president holds a power over the freedom of debate, under the right of preserv- 
ing order, beyond the will or control of the Senate ; and that, consequently, he 
alone is responsible for what might be considered an undue exercise of the free- 
dom of speech in debate, a solid foundation w^ould be laid, from which, in time, 
this great barrier against despotic power would be battered down. It is easy 
to see that the scheme takes the power of protecting this, the first of its rights, 
wholly out of the hands of the Senate, and places its custody in the hands of a 
single individual, and he in no degree responsible to the body over which this 
hifh power is to be exercised : thus effectually destroying the keystone of free- 
dom, responsibility, and introducing into a vital part of our system uncontrolled, 
or, what is the same thing, despotic power ; which, being derived, by your 
theory, from the Constitution, and being applicable to all points of order, neces- 
sarily would vest in the Vice-president alone an independent and absolute 
power, that would draw into the vortex of his authority an unlimited control 
over the freedom of debate. "*- 

Mark the consequences ! If the Vice-president should belong to the same 
party or interest which brought the President into power, or if he be dependant 
on him for his political standing or advancement, you will virtually place the 
control over the freedom of debate in the hands of the executive. 

You thus introduce the President, as it were, into the chamber of the Senate, 
and place him virtually over tlie deliberation of the body, with powers to restrain 
discussion, and shield his conduct from investigation. Let us, for instance, sup- 
pose that the present chief magistrate should be re-elected, and that the party 
which supports him should succeed, as, in all probability, they would in that 
event, in electing also their Vice-president, can it be doubted that the rules for 
the restraint of the freedom of debate in the Senate, which have been insisted 
on openly by the party during the last winter, would be reduced to practice, 
through a subservient Vice-president ? And what are those rules ? One of the 
leadino- ones, to advert to no other, is, that the conduct of the executive, as a 
co-ordinate branch of that government, cannot be called in question by a sen- 
ator in debate, at least so far as it relates to impeachable offences ; and, of 
course, an attempt to discuss tJie conduct of the President, in such cases, would be 
disorderly, and render the senator liable to be punished, even to expulsion. What 
would be the consequence ? The Senate would speedily sink into a body to 
register the decrees of the President and sing hosannas in his praise, and be 
as degraded as the Roman Senate under Nero. 

But let us suppose the opposite state of things, in which the Vice-president 
chooses to pursue a course independent of the will of the executive, and, in- 
stead of assuming so dangerous an exercise of power, he should indulge (for 
indulcrence it must be called, if allowed by his courtesy) that freedom of debate 
w^hich exists in other deliberative assemblies. What will then follow ? Pre- 
cisely that which occurred last winter. Alost exaggerated and false accounts 
would everywhere be propagated, by hirelings of power, of the slightest occur- 
rence in the Senate. The public indignation would be roused at the supposed 
disorder and indecorum, and the whole would be artfully directed against the 
Vice-president, in order to prostrate his reputation ; and thus an officer, without 
patronage or power, or even the right of defending himself, would be the target 
against which the whole force and patronage of the Government would be di- 
rected. Few men would have the fiirmness to encounter danger so tremendous ; 

ana me pracncai resuii, in uie luug n 
executive will. 

No. 2. 

Having now established, I may venture to say beyond the possibility of rea- 
sonable controversy, that the idea of an inherent right in the Vice-president, in- 
dependent of, and beyond the will of the Senate, to control the freedom of de- 
bate, is neither sanctioned by the Constitution, nor justified by the relation be- 
tween the body and its presiding officer, and that it is subversive of the right 
of free discussion, and, consequently, dangerous to liberty, I might here fairly 
rest the question. To you, at least, who treat with scorn the rules and usages 
of the Senate, as the source of the power of the Vice-president, all farther in- 
quiry is fairly closed. But as many, who may agree with you in the conclu- 
sion, may treat with contempt your high-strained conception of the origin of the 
power under investigation, it will not be improper to ascertain whether it has 
been conferred on the Vice-president by any act of the Senate, express or im- 
plied, the only source whence the power can be fairly derived. In this view 
of the subject, the simple inquiry is, Has the Senate conferred the power 1 
It has been fully established that they alone possess it, and, consequently, from 
the Senate only can it be derived. We, then, affirm that the Senate has no4 
conferred the power. The assertion of the negative, in such cases, is sufficient 
to throw the burden of proof on those who hold the affirmative. I call on you, 
then, or any of your associates, to point out the rule or the usage of the Senate 
by which the power has been conferred. None such has, or can be designated. 
If a similar question be asked as to the power of the Speaker of the House of 
Representatives, how easy would be the reply 1 The 19th rule, which express- 
ly gives the power to him, would be immediately quoted ; and, if that were sufH 
posed to be doulnful, the journals of the house would be held up as containing 
innumerable instances of the actual exercise of the power. No such answer 
can be given when we turn to the power of the Vice-president. The rules are 
mute, and the journals of the Senate silent. What means this striking differ- 
ence, but that, on this point, there is a difference, in fact, between the power of 
the speaker and of the Vice-president? a difference which has been always 
understood and acted on ; and when to this we add, that the rules of the two 
houses in regard to the power are strikingly different ; that, while those of the 
Representatives expressly delegate the power to the speaker, those of the Sen- 
ate, by strong implication, withhold it from the Vice-president, little room can 
be left for doubt. Compare, in this view, the 19th rule of the house and the 
7th of the Senate. The former says, " If any member, by speaking or other- 
wise, transgress the rules of the house, the speaker shall, or any member may, 
call to order : in which case the member so called to order shall immediately 
sit down, unless permitted to explain ; and the house shall, if appealed to, de- 
cide on the case without debate ; if there be no appeal, the decision of the 
chair shall be submitted to. If the decision be in favour of the member called 
to order, he shall be at liberty to proceed ; if otherwise, he will not be permit- 
ted to proceed without leave of the house ; and if tlie case require it, he shall 
be lialilo to the censure of the house." The rule of the Senate, on the contra- 
ry, provides, "If tlio member shall be called to order for wortls spoken, the ex- 
cept ional)le words shall immediately be taken down in writing, that the presi- 
dent may be better enal)led to judge of the matter." These are the corresponding 
rules of the two houses : and can any impartial mind contend that similar pow- 
ers are intended to be conferred by them on the speaker and Vice-president? 
Or will it be insisted on that the difference in the phraseolog)"- is accidental, 
when it is known that they have often been revised on tlie reports of commit- 

mg subjects : unaer sucu circumsiances, u is impossiDle mat it coulQ oe in- 
tended to confer the same power by sucli difference of phraseology, or that the 
withholding of the power in question from the Vice-president was unintentional. 
This rational construction is greatly strengthened, when we advert to the dif- 
ferent relations which the two officers bear to their respective houses. The 
speaker is chosen by the House of Representatives, and is, consequently, di- 
rectly responsible to the body ; and his decision, by the rules, may be appealed 
from to the house. The Vice-president, on the contrary, is placed in the chair 
by the Constitution, is not responsible to the Senate, and his decision is with- 
out appeal. Need we look farther for the reason of so essential a variation in 
the rules conferring power on their respective presiding officers 1 It is a re- 
markable fact, that the same difference exists in the relation between the pre- 
siding officers of the two houses of the British Parliament, and the bodies over 
which they respectively preside. In the Commons, the speaker is chosen as 
in our House of Representatives, and is, consequently, in like manner respon- 
sible ; on the contrary, in the House of Lords the chancellor presides ex-ojicio, 
in like manner as the Vice-president in the Senate, and is, in like manner, ir- 
responsible to the body. Now it is no less remarkable that the speaker pos- 
sesses the power in question, while it is perfectly certahi that the lord-chancel- 
lor does not. Like cause, like effect ; dissimilar cause, dissimilar effect. You, 
sir, have, it is true, made a puny effort to draw a distinction between the mode 
in which the Vice-president and the lord-chancellor are appointed, and have 
also feebly denied that the latter has not the power of calling to order. Both 
of these efforts show the desperation of your cause. What does it signify by 
whom an cz-ojicio officer is appointed, if not by the body ? There can be but 
one material point, and that without reference to the mode of appointment — is 
he, or is he not, responsible to the house ? If the former, there is good cause 
for the delegation of the power ; for power exercised by responsible agents is 
substantially exercised by the principal ; while by irresponsible agents it is the 
power of him by whom it is exercised. Nor is your effort to show that the 
chancellor has the power less unhappy. You have cited but one instance, and 
that really renders you ridiculous. The lord-chancellor, as is well known, 
has the right of speaking ; and you most absurdly cite the commencement of 
a speech of one of the chancellors, in which he states that he would call back 
the attention of the Lords to the question at issue, as an instance of exercisino- 
the power of calling to order as presiding officer, for departure from the ques- 
tion ! Though you have signally failed to prove your position, you have not less 
completely established the fact, that your integrity is not above a resort to trick, 
where argument fails. Nor is this the only instance of subterfuge. You made 
a similar effort to do away the authority of the venerable Jefferson. He has 
left on record, that he considered his power as presiding officer of the Senate 
as the power of umpirage, or, what is the same thing, an appellate power. In 
order to break the force of this authority, you have denied the plain and inva- 
riable meaning of the word, and attempted to affix one to it which it never bears. 
You say that its usual meaning is synonymous wnth " office," " authority," or 
" the act of determining," and that it is only in its technical sense that it con- 
veys the idea of an appellate power ! Can it be unknown to you that no word in 
the language more invariably has attached to it the idea of decision by appeal, 
and that there is not an instance of its being used by any respectable authority 
in the sense which you state to be its usual meaning ? 

It only remains to consider the cases that you have cited from the Manual, 
to prove that the Speaker of the House of Commons possesses the power in 
question ; by which you would infer that it belongs also to the Vice-president. 
A very strange deduction by one who believes that the power originates in the 
Constitution, and that it neither can be given or taken away by the authority of the 

Senate itselt. Alter assorting tnai ii uas uecpci auu uunci iuuiiuaiivjuo tiia« 
tiie rules and usages of the Senate," there is something more than ridiculous, 
that you at last seek for the power in the rules and usages of the House of Com- 
mons ! But let such inconsistency pass. You have, indeed, established the 
fact that the speaker has the power, but you have overlooked the material cir- 
cumstance, as I have shown from your own cases, that he possesses it hy posi- 
tive ruhs of the house. You might as well have shown that the Speaker of 
the House of Representatives possesses it, and then inferred that the Vice- 
president does also : for he, too, holds the power by positive rules of the body, 
which makes the analogy as strong in the one case as the other. 

But you would have it understood that the rules of Parliament have been 
adopted by the Senate. No such thing. I challenge you to cite a single rule 
or act of the Senate that gives countenance to it. Finally, you tell us that Mr. 
Jeflerson has cited these rules as being part of the rules and usages of the Sen- 
ate. Admitting, for a moment, that I\Ir. Jefferson had cited them as such, still 
a very important question would arise, How came they to be the rules of the 
Senate ? The Constitution provides that the Senate shall determine the rules 
of its proceedings ; now, if that body has not, by any rule, adopted the rules of 
the British Parliament, by what process of reason could they be construed to be 
the rules of the Senate ? That the Senate has not adopted the rules of Parlia- 
ment, is certain ; and I confess I am not a little curious to see the process of 
reasoning by which they are made the niles of the Senate, without adoption. 
Is there not a striking analogy between this and the question, whether the com- 
mon law is a part of the laws of the Union ? We know that they have been 
decided by the highest judicial authority not to be ; and, it seems to me, the ar- 
guments which would be applicable to the one would be equally so to the other 
question. That the rules and usages of Parliament may be referred to to illus- 
trate the rules of either house of Congress, is quite a distinct proposition, and 
may be readily admitted. Arguments may be drawn from any source calcida- 
ted to illustrate, but that is wholly different from giving to the rules of another 
body a binding force on the Senate, without ever having been recognised as its 
rules. This is a subject of deep and grave importance ; but as it is not neces- 
sary to my purpose, I decline entering on it. It is sufficient, at present, to de- 
ny that Mr. Jefferson has cited the rules of the Parliament, refined to by you, 
as those of the Senate. On the contrary, they are expressly cited as the rules 
of the British House of Commons, without stating them to be obligatory on the 
Senate. He has notoriously cited many of the rules of that body which are 
wholly dissimilar from the usages of the Senate. But you cite Mr. Jefferson's 
opinion, in which he says, " The Senate have, accordingly, formed some rules 
for its government" (they have been much enlarged since) ; " but these going 
only to a few cases, they have referred to the decision of the president, without 
debate or appeal, all (piestions of order arising under their own rules, or where 
there is none. This places under the discretion of the president a very exten- 
sive field of decision." If your object in quoting the above passage was to !<how 
that, where the Senate has adopted no rules of its OAvn, the rules of Parliament 
are those of the Senate, it completely fails. Not the slightest countenance 
is given to such an idea. Mr. Jeflerson, on the contrary, says that, in cases of 
omission, the sound discretion of the president is the rule ;* and such has been 
the practice, and from which it has followed that usages of the Senate are very 
different from the Parliament, which could not be, if the latter were adopted, 
where there were no positive rules by the Senate. 

If this view of the subject be correct, which is certainly Mr. Jefferson's, the 

* This opinion of Mr. Jeflforsoii's is probably founded on the latter part of the Gtli rule, which 
strongly snp[)cirts it. The rule is as follows : " When a member shall bo called lo order, he shall sit 
down until the president shall have determined whether he is in order or not ; and every question 
of order shall be decided by the president, without debate ; but if tliere be a doubt in his uiindi ha 
may call for the sense of the Senate." 

and the only question tnai coiua arise in mis view is, wneiner ne aas acieu uu 
correct principles in referring the power to the house, instead of exercising it 
by the chair. So long as doubtful and irresponsible power ought not to be as- 
sumed — so long as the freedom of debate is essential to liberty — and so long as 
it is an axiom in politics that no power can be safe but what is in the final con- 
trol and custody of the body over which it is exercised — so long the rule (to 
view it in that light) adopted by the Vice-president will be considered in con- 
formity to sound political principles. But, suppose it to be conceived that the 
rules of Parliament are those of the Senate, when not overruled by its own posi- 
tive acts, still, two questions would remain : first, whether the 7th rule of the 
Senate, by a sound construction, does not restrain the Vice-president from exer- 
cising the power, by limiting it to the members of the Senate ? and, secondly, 
whether the practice of the House of Lords, or that of the Commons, ought, in 
this particular, to prevail ? Both of these points have already been incidental- 
ly considered, and a single remark will now suffice. Whether we regard the 
nature of the power, or the principles of our system of government, there can 
be no doubt that the decision ought to be against the practice of the House of 
Commons, and in favour of that of the House of Lords. 

It may not be improper to notice an opinion which, if I mistake not, has, in 
no small degree, contributed to the error which exists as to the decision of the 
Vice-president. There are many who are far from agreeing with your absurd 
and dangerous positions as to the inherent powers of the Vice-president over 
the freedom of debate, but who have, I think, a vague conception that he has 
the right in dispute, as presiding ofiicer, but a right subordinate to, and depend- 
ant on, the Senate. They concede to the Senate the right of determining their 
rules, and that this right comprehends that of determining what is, or what is 
not, disorderly conduct, and how the same shall be noticed or inhibited ; but 
they have an idea that the ex-officio duty of the Vice-president to regulate the 
proceedings of the Senate according to their own rules, extends to cases of the 
freedom of debate. The amount of the argument, as far as I can understand it, 
is, that, where there is a rule of the Senate, the Vice-president has, ex-ojjicio, 
the power of regulating the proceedings of the Senate by it, without any express 
authority in the rule to that effect. All this may be fairly conceded, but it decides 
nothing. It brings back the question to the inquiry, Is there, or is there not, such 
a rule 1 which has been fully considered, and, I trust, satisfactorily determined 
in the negative. I will not again repeat the arguments on this point : I do not 
deem it necessary. It is sufficient to remark, if there be a rule, let it be shown, 
and the question is at an end. There is none. 

As connected with this part of the subject, I do not think it necessary to 
meet the ridiculous charge of inconsistency which you make against the Vice- 
president in the exercise of his power, and which you endeavour to support by 
reference to the stale and false accounts of his conduct in the case of IMr. Dick- 
erson. It is sufficient that Mr. D. has repelled the charge of injustice, and you 
exhibit but a sorry and factious appearance in defending a senator from oppres- 
sion, who is not conscious of any injustice having been inflicted. 

Having demonstrated that the powers which you claim for the Vice-presi- 
dent do not belong to him as presiding officer of the Senate, and that they are 
not conferred on him by the rules or usage of the Senate, or those of Parlia- 
ment, I may safely affirm that it does not exist, and that, so far from censure, 
Mr. Calhoun deserves praise for decUning to exercise it. He has acted in the 
spirit that ought to actuate every virtuous public functionary — not to assume 
doubtful powers — a spirit, under our systems of delegated authority, essential to 
the preservation of liberty, and for being guided by which, he will receive the 
thanks of the country when the excitement of the day has passed away. 

I have now completed what may be considered the investigation of the sub- 


jet I , UUl nitric aic ami oociai wi y >^"i ix^...".--.K- ^1 

not onlv attacked the decision of Mr. Calhoun, but you have impugned his mo- 
lives \vith licentious severity. The corrupt are the most disposed to attribute 
corruption, and your unprovoked and unjustifiable attack on Mr. C.'s motives 
speak as little in favour of your heart as your arguments do of your head. For- 
tunately for the Vice-president, his general character for virtue and patriotism 
shields'him from the imputation of such gross abuse of power, from such impure 
motives as you attribute to him. He could not decide differently from what he 
did without being at war with the principles which have ever governed him. It 
is well known to all acquainted with him, publically or privately, that the maxim 
which he holds in the highest veneration, and which he regards as the founda- 
tion of our whole system of government, is, that power should be controlled by 
the body over which it is exercised, and that, without such responsibility, all 
delegated power would speedily become corrupt. Whether he is wrong in giv- 
ing too high an estimate to this favourite maxim is immaterial. It is, and long 
hal been, his, and could not fail in having great influence in the decision which 
you have so seriously assaulted. Had his principles been like yours, as illus- 
trated in your essay, it is possible he might have taken a different view of the 
subject ; but, as he has decided in conformity to principles long fixed in his 
mind, there is something malignant in the extreme to attribute his decision to 
motives of personal enmity. You not only attack Mr. C.'s motives for this de- 
cision, but also his motive for the constitution of the Committee of Foreign Re- 
lations. You think it a crime in him that the venerable and patriotic Alacon 
should be placed at the head of the committee. I will neither defend him nor 
the other members of the committee. They need no defence ; but I cannot 
but remark, that the election of Mr. Macon president pro tern, of the Senate is 
a singular comment on your malignant attack on the Vice-president. 

It would have been impossible that you should steer clear of the cant of your 
party, and we accordingly have a profusion of vague charges about Mr. Cal- 
houn's ambition. The lowest and most mercenary hireling can easily coin such 
charges ; and while they deal in the general, without a single specification, it 
is utterly impossible to meet or refute them ; but, fortunately, they go for no- 
thing with the wise and virtuous, saving only that, on the part of those who make 
them, they evince an envious, morbid mind, which, having no real ground of 
attack, indulges in vague, unmeaning abuse. It is highly honourable to Mr. 
C. that, in the midst of so much political enmity, his personal and public char- 
acter stands free from all but one specific charge — which is, that he has incli- 
ned, in his present station, too much against his own poioer, and too muck in favour 
of the inestimable right of the freedom of debate. That he has been indefatiga- 
ble in the discharge of his duty ; that he has been courteous to the members, 
and prompt and intelligent, all acknowledge. Not a moment was he absent 
from his post during a long and laborious session, and often remained in the 
chair, without leaving it, from eight to twelve hours. He has, however, com- 
mitted one unpardonable sin which blots out all. He did not stop Mr. Ran- 
dolph. This is the head and front of his offending. And who is Mr. Randolph ? 
Is he or his manners a stranger in our national councils ? For more than a 
quarter of a century he has been a member of Congress, and during the whole 
time his character has remained unchanged. Highly talented, eloquent, se- 
vere, and eccentric ; not unfrequently wandering from the question, but often 
uttering wisdom worthy of a Bacon, and wit that would not discredit a Sheri- 
dan, every speaker had freely indulged him in his peculiar manner, and that 
•without responsibility or censure ; and none more freely than the present Sec- 
retary of State, while he presided in the House of Representatives. He is 
elected, with a knowledge of all this, by the ancient and renowned common- 
wealth of Virginia, and takes his seat in the Senate. An immediate outcry is 
made against the Vice-president for permitting him, who has been so long per- 

inoiiga m no respecxs were iiis a,uacKs oil ims aamimsiraiioii ireer man wnat 
they had been on those of Mr. Jeflerson, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Monroe. 
Who can doubt, if Mr. Calhoun had yielded to this clamour, that the whole 
current would have turned, and that he would then have been more severely 
denounced for what would have been called his tyranny and usurpation, than 
he has been for refusing to interfere with the freedom of debate ? His author- 
ity would have been denied, and properly denied : the fact that Mr. R. had been 
permitted by all other presiding officers, for so long a time, to speak without re- 
straint, would have been dwelt on ; and the injustice done to the senator, and 
the insult offered to the state that sent him, would have been painted in the 
most lively colours. These considerations, we are satisfied, had no weight 
■with the Vice-president. Those who know him know that no man is more re- 
gardless of consequences in the discharge of his duty ; but that the attack on 
him is personal, in order to shake his political standing, and prostrate his char- 
acter, is clearly evinced by every circumstance ; and with this object, that he 
would have been assaulted, act as he might, is most certain. It is for the 
American people to determine whether this conspiracy against a public servant, 
whose only fault is that he has chosen the side of liberty rather than that of pow- 
er, and whose highest crime consists in a reverential regard for the freedom of 
debate, shall succeed. Onslow. 


The question of the relation which the States and General Government bear 
to each other is not one of recent origin. From the commencement of our 
system, it has divided public sentiment. Even in the Convention, while the 
Constitution was struggling into existence, there were two parties as to what 
this relation should be, whose different sentiments constituted no small imped- 
iment in forming that instrument. After the General Government went into 
operation, experience soon proved that the question had not terminated with the 
labours of the Convention. The great struggle that preceded the political rev- 
olution of 1801, which brought Mr. Jefferson into power, turned essentially on 
it, and the doctrines and arguments on both sides were imbodied and ably sus- 
tained : on the one, in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, and the Report 
to the Virginia Legislature ; and on the other, in the replies of the Legislature 
of Massachusetts and some of the other states. These resolutions and this 
report, with the decision of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania about the 
same time (particularly in the case of Cobbett, delivered by Chief-justice 
M'Kean, and concurred in by the whole bench), contain what I believe to 
be the true doctrine on this important subject. I refer to them in order to avoid 
the necessity of presenting my views, with the reasons in support of them, in 

As my object is simply to state my opinions, I might pause with this refer- 
ence to documents that so fully and ably state all the points immediately con- 
nected with this deeply-important subject ; but as there are many who may not 
have the opportunity or leisure to refer to them, and as it is possible, however clear 
they may be, that different persons may place different interpretations on their 
meaning, I will, in order that my sentiments may be fully known, and to avoid 
all ambiguity, proceed to state summarily the doctrines which I conceive they 

from the people of the several states, forming distinct political communities, and 
acting in their separate and sovereign capacity, and not from all of the people 
forming one aggregate political community ; that the Constitution of the United 
States is, in fact, a compact, to which each state is a party, in the character al- 
ready described ; and that the several states, or parties, have a right to judge of 
its infractions ; and in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of 
power not delegated, they have the right, in the last resort, to use the language 
of the Virginia Resolutions, " to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, 
and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and lib- 
erties appertaining to them." This right of interposition, thus solemnly assert- 
ed by the State of Virginia, be it called what it may — State-right, veto, nullifi- 
cation, or by any other name — I conceive to be the fundamental principle of 
our system, resting on facts historically as certain as our revolution itself, and 
deductions as simple and demonstrative as that of any political or moral truth 
whatever ; and I firmly believe that on its recognition depend the stability 
and safety of our political institutions. 

I am not ignorant that those opposed to the doctrine have always, now and 
formerly, regarded it in a very different light, as anarchical and revolutionarj'. 
Could I believjD such, in fact, to be its tendency, to me it would be no recom- 
mendation. I yield to none, I trust, in a deep and sincere attachment to our 
political institutions and the union of these states. I never breathed an oppo- 
site sentiment ; but, on the contrary, I have ever considered them the great in- 
struments of preserving our liberty, and promoting the happiness of ourselves 
and our posterity ; and next to these I have ever held them most dear. Nearly 
half my life has been passed in the service of the Union, and whatever public 
reputation I have acquired is indissolubly identified with it. To be too national 
has, indeed, been considered by many, even of my friends, to be my greatest 
political fault. With these strong feelings of attachment, I have examined, with 
the utmost care, the bearing of the doctrine in question ; and, so far from anar- 
chical or revolutionary, I solemnly believe it to be the only solid foundation of 
our system, and of the Union itself; and that the opposite doctrine, which denies 
to the states the right of protecting their reserved powers, and which would 
vest in the General Government (it matters not through what department) the 
right of determining, exclusively and finally, the powers delegated to it, is in- 
compatible with the sovereignty of the states, and of the Constitution itself, con- 
sidered as the basis of a Federal Union. As strong as this language is, it is 
not stronger than that used by the illustrious Jefferson, who said to give to the 
General Govermnent the final and exclusive right to judge of its powers, is to 
make " its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers ;" and 
that, " in all cases of compact between parties having no common judge, each party 
has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of the infraction as of the mode and 
measure of redress.'^ Language cannot be more explicit, nor can higher author- * 
ity be adduced. / 

That different opinions are entertained on this subject, I consider but as an 
additional evidence of the great diversity of the human intellect. Had not able, 
experienced, and patriotic individuals, for whom I have the highest respect, 
taken dilferent views, I would have thought the right too clear to admit of doubt ; 
but I am taught by this, as well as by many similar instances, to treat with 
deference opinions differing from my own. The error may, possibly, be with 
me ; but if so, I can only say that, after the most mature and conscientious ex- 
amination, I have not been able to detect it. But, with all proper deference, I 
must fliink that theirs is the error who deny what seems to be an essential at- 
tribute of the conceded sovereignty of the states, and who attribute to the Gen- 
eral Govermnent a ri^ht utterly incompatible with what all acknowledo-e to be 
its limited and restricted character : an error originating principally, as I must 

stitutes the only rational object of all political constitutions. 

It has been well' said by one of the most sagacious men of antiquity, that the 
object of a constitution is to restr.ain the government, as that of laws is to restrain 
individuals. The remark is correct; nor is it less true where the government 
is vested in a majority than where it is in a single or a few individuals — in a 
republic, than a monarchy or aristocracy. No one can have a higher respect 
for the maxim that the majority ought to govern than I have, taken in its proper 
sense, subject to the restrictions imposed by the Constitution, and contined to 
subjects in which every portion of the community have similar interests ; but it 
is a great error to suppose, as many do, that the right of a majority to govern is 
a natural and not a conventional right, and therefore absolute and unlimited. 
By nature every individual has the right to govern himself; and governments, 
whether founded on majorities or minorities, must derive their right from the 
assent, expressed or implied, of the governed, and be subject to such limitations 
as they may impose. Where the interests are the same, that is, where the 
laws that may benefit one will benefit all, or the reverse, it is just and proper to 
place them under the control of the majority ; but where they are dissimilar, so 
that the law that may benefit one portion may be ruinous to another, it would 
be, on the contrary, unjust and absurd to subject them to its will ; and such I 
conceive to be the theory on which our Constitution rests. 

That such dissimilarity of interests may exist, it is impossible to doubt. They 
are to be fouud in every community, in a greater or less degree, however small 
or homogeneous, and they constitute everywhere the great difficulty of forming 
and preserving free institutions. To guard against the unequal action of the 
laws, when applied to dissimilar and opposing interests, is, in fact, what mainly 
renders a constitution indispensable ; to overlook which, in reasoning on our 
Constitution, would be to omit the principal element by which to determine its 
character. Were there no contrariety of interests, nothing would be more 
simple and easy than to form and preserve free institutions. The right of suf- 
frage alone would be a sufficient guarantee. It is the conflict of opposing inter- 
ests which renders it the most difficult work of man. 

Where the diversity of interests exists in separate and distinct classes of the 
community, as is the case in England, and was fonnerly the case in Sparta, 
Rome, and most of the free states of antiquity, the rational constitutional pro- 
vision is that each should be represented in the government, as a separate es- 
tate, with a distinct voice, and a negative on the acts of its co-estates, in order 
to check their encroachments. In England the Constitution has assumed ex- 
pressly this form, while in the governments of Sparta and Rome the same 
thing was effected under different, but not much less efficacious forms. The 
perfection of their organization, in this particular, was that which gave to the 
constitutions of these renowned states all their celebrity, which secured their 
liberty for so many centuries, and raised them to so great a height of power 
and prosperity. Indeed, a constitutional provision giving to the great and sep- 
arate interests of the community the right of self-protection, must appear, to 
those who will duly reflect on the subject, not less essential to the preservation 
of liberty than the right of suffi-age itself. They, in fact, have a common object, 
to effect which the one is as necessary as the other to secure responsibility : 
that is, that those xoho make and execute the laws should be accountable to those on 
whom the laivs in reality operate — the only solid and durable foundation of liberty. 
If, without the right of suffi-age, our rulers would oppress us, so, without the 
right of self-protection, the major would equally oppress the minor interests of 
the community. The absence of the former would make the governed the 
slaves of the rulers, and of the latter, the feebler interests, the victim of the 

Happily for us, we have no artificial and separate classes of society. We 

empt from all contrariety of interests, as the present distracted and dangerous 
condition of our country, unfortunately, but too clearly proves. With us they 
are almost exclusively geographical, resulting mainly from difference of climate, 
soil, situation, industry, and production, but are not, therefore, less necessary to 
be protected by an adequate constitutional provision than where the distinct in- 
terests exist in separate classes. The necessity is, in truth, greater, as such 
separate and dissimilar geographical interests are more liable to come into con- 
flict, and more dangerous, when in that state, than those of any other descrip- 
tion : so much so, that ours is the first instance on record where they have not 
formed, in an extensive territory, separate and independent communities, or sub- 
jected the tchole to despotic sway. That such may not be our unhappy fate also, 
must be the sincere prayer of every lover of his country. 

So numerous and diversified are the interests of our country, that they could 
not be fairly represented in a single government, organized so as to give to each 
great and leading interest a separate and distinct voice, as in governments to 
which I have referred. A plan was adopted better suited to our situation, but 
perfectly novel in its character. The powers of the government were divided, 
not, as heretofore, in reference to classes, but geographically. One Gener- 
al Government was formed for the whole, to which was delegated all the 
powers supposed to be necessary to regulate the interests common to all the 
states, leaving others subject to the separate control of the states, being, 
from their local and peculiar character, such that they could not be subject to 
the will of a majority of the whole Union, without the certain hazard of injus- 
tice and oppression. It was thus that the interests of the whole were subject- 
ed, as they ought to be, to the will of the whole, while the peculiar and local 
interests were left under the control of the states separately, to whose custody 
only they could be safely confided. This distribution of power, settled solemnly 
by a constitutional compact, to which all the states are parties, constitutes the 
peculiar character and excellence of our political system. It is truly and emphat- 
ically American, without example or parallel. 

To realize its perfection, we must view the General Government and those 
of the states as a whole, each in its proper sphere independent ; each perfectly 
adapted to its respective objects ; the states acting separately, representing and 
protecting the local and peculiar interests ; acting jointly through one General 
Government, with the weight respectively assigned to each by the Constitu- 
tion, representing and protecting the interest of the whole, and thus perfecting, 
by an admirable but simple arrangement, the great principle of representation 
and responsibility, without which no government can be free or just. To pre- 
serve this sacred distribution as originally settled, by coercing each to move in 
its prescribed orb, is the great and difficult problem, on the solution of which 
the duration of our Constitution, of our Union, and, in all probability, our liberty 
depends. Ilow is this to be effected? 

The question is new when applied to our peculiar political organization, 
where the separate and conflicting interests of society are represented by dis- 
tinct but coimected governments ; but it is, in reality, an old question under a 
new form, long shice perfectly solved. Whenever separate and dissimilar in- 
terests have been separately represented in any government ; whenever the 
sovereign power has been divided in its exercise, the experience and wisdom 
of ages have devised but one mode by which such political organization can be 
preserved — the mode adopted in England, and by all governments, ancient 
and modern, blessed with constitutions deserving to be called free — to give to 
each co-estate the right to judge of its powers, with a negative or veto on the 
acts of the others, in order to protect against encroachments the interests it par- 
ticularly represents : a principle which all of our Constitutions recognise in the 
distribution of power among their respective departments, as essential to main- 

fundamental distribution of powers between the General and State Governments. 
So essential is the principle, that to withhold the right from either, where the 
sovereign power is divided, is, in fact, to annul the division itself, and to con- 
solidate in the one left in the exclusive possession of the right all powers of 
government ; for it is not possible to distinguish, practically, between a govern- 
ment having all power, and one having the right to take what powers it pleases. 
Nor does it in the least vary the principle, whether the distribution of power be 
between co-estates, as in England, or between distinctly organized but con- 
nected governments, as with us. The reason is the same in both cases, while 
the necessity is greater in our case, as the danger of conflict is greater where 
the interests of a society are divided geographically than in any other, as has 
already been shown. 

These truths do seem to me to be incontrovertible ; and I am at a loss to un- 
derstand how any one, who has maturely reflected on the nature of our institu- 
tions, or who has read history or studied the principles of free government to 
any purpose, can call them in question. The explanation must, it appears to 
me, be sought in the fact that in every free state there are those who look more 
to the necessity of maintaining power than guarding against its abuses. I do 
not intend reproach, but simply to state a fact apparently necessary to explain 
the contrariety of opinions among the intelligent, where the abstract considera- 
tion of the subject would seem scarcely to admit of doubt. If such be the true 
cause, I must think the fear of weakening the government too much in this case 
to be in a great measure unfounded, or, at least, that the danger is much less 
from that than the opposite side. I do not deny that a power of so high a na- 
ture may be abused by a state, but when I reflect that the states unanimously 
called the General Government into existence with all its powers, which they 
freely delegated on their part, under the conviction that their common peace, 
safety, and prosperity required it ; that they are bound together by a common 
origin, and the recollection of common suflering and common triumph in the 
great and splendid achievement of their independence ; and that the strongest 
feelings of our nature, and among them the love of national power and distinc- 
tion, are on the side of the Union, it does seem to me that the fear which 
would strip the states of their sovereignty, and degrade them, in fact, to mere 
dependant corporations, lest they should abuse a right indispensable to the peace- 
able protection of those interests which they reserved under their own peculiar 
guardianship when they created the General Government, is unnatural and un- 
reasonable. If those who voluntarily created the system cannot be trusted to 
preserve it, who can 1 

So far from extreme danger, I hold that there never was a free state in which 
this great conservative principle, indispensable to all, was ever so safely lodged. 
In others, when the co-estates representing the dissimilar and conflicting inter- 
ests of the community came into contact, the only alternative was compromise, 
submission, or force. Not so in ours. Should the General Government and 
a state come into conflict, we have a higher remedy : the power which called 
the General Government into existence, which gave it all its authority, and can 
enlarge, contract, or abolish its powers at its pleasure, may be invoked. The 
states themselves may be appealed to, three fourths of which, in fact, form a 
power, whose decrees are the Constitution itself, and whose voice can silence 
all discontent. The utmost extent, then, of the power is, that a state acting in its 
sovereign capacity, as one of the parties to the constitutional compact, may com- 
pel the government, created by that compact, to submit a question touching its 
infraction to the parties who created it ; to avoid the supposed dangers of which, 
it is proposed to resort to the novel, the hazardous, and, I must add, fatal proj- 
ect of giving to the General Government the sole and final right of interpret- 

ment the creature of its will instead of a rule of action impressed on it at its* 
creation, and annihilating, in fact, the authority which imposed it, and from which 
the government itself derives its existence. 

That such would be the result, were the right in question vested in the le- 
gislative or executive branch of the government, is conceded by all. No one 
has been so hardy as to assert that Congress or the President ought to have the 
rio^ht, or deny that, if vested finally and exclusively in either, the consequences 
which I have stated would necessarily follow ; but its advocates have been rec- 
onciled to the doctrine, on the supposition that there is one department of the 
General Government which, from its peculiar organization, affords an independ- 
ent tribunal through which the government may exercise the high authority 
which is the subject of consideration, with perfect safety to all. 

I yield, I trust, to few in my attachment to the judiciary department. I am 
fully sensible of its importance, and would maintain it to the fullest extent in 
its constitutional powers and independence ; but it is impossible for me to be- 
lieve that it was ever intended by the Constitution that it should exercise the 
power in question, or that it is competent to do so ; and, if it were, that it would 
be a safe depositary of the power. 

Its powers are judicial, and not political, and are expressly confined by the 
Constitution " to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution, the 
laws of the United States, and the treaties made, or which shall be made, under 
its authority ;" and which I have high authority in asserting excludes political 
questions, and comprehends those only where there are parties amenable to the 
process of the court.* Nor is its incompetency less clear than its want of con- 
stitutional authority. There may be many, and the most dangerous infractions 
on the part of Congress, of which, it is conceded by all, the court, as a judicial 
tribunal, cannot, from its nature, take cognizance. The tariff itself is a strong 
case in point ; and the reason applies equally to all others ichcre Congress per- 
verts a potcer from an object intended to one not intended, the most insidious and 
dangerous of all the infractions ; and which may he extended to all of its powers, 
more esprcialhj to the taxing and appropriating. But, supposing it competent to 
take cognizance of all infractions of every description, the insuperable objec- 
tion still remains, that it would not be a safe tribunal to exercise the power in 

It is a universal and fundamental political principle, that the power to pro- 
tect can safely be confided only to those interested in protecting, or their re- 
sponsible agents — a maxim not less true in private than in public affairs. The 
danger in our system is, that the General Government, which represents the in- 
terests of the whole, may encroach on the states, which represent the peculiar 
and local interests, or that the latter may encroach on the former. 

In examining this point, we ought not to forget that the government, throno-h 
all its departments, judicial as well as others, is administered by delegated and 
responsible agents ; and that the jiowcr which realhj controls, vltimatehj, all the 
movcmrnts, is not in the agents, but those icho elect or appoint them. To under- 
stand, then, its real character, and what would be the action of the system in 
any supposable case, we must raise our view from the. mere agents to this high 
controlling power, which finally impels every movement of the machine. By 
doing so, we shall find all under the control of the will of a majority, compoimd- 
ed of the majority of the states, taken as corporate bodies, and the majority of 
the people of the states, estimated in federal numbers. These, united, constitute 
the real and final power which impels and directs the movements of the Gen- 
eral Government. The majority of the states elect the majority of the Senate ; 
of the people of the states, that of the House of Representatives ; the two uni- 

♦ I rofer to the authority of Chief-justice Marshall, in the case of Jonathan Robbins. I 
have not been able to refer to the speech, and speak from memory. 

the President, really exercise all the powers of the government, with the excep- 
tion of the cases where the Constitution requires a greater number than a ma- 
jority. The judges are, in fact, as truly the judicial representatives of this uni- 
ted majority, as the majority of Congress itself, or the President, is its legisla- 
tive or executive representative ; and to confide the power to the judiciary to 
determine finally and conclusively what powers are delegated and what reserv- 
ed, would be, in reality, to confide it to the majority, whose agents they are, and 
by whom they can be controlled in various ways ; and, of course, to subject 
(against the fundamental principle of our system and all sound political reason- 
ing) the reserved powers of the states, with all the local and peculiar interests 
they were intended to protect, to the will of the very majority against which the 
protection was intended. Nor will the tenure by which the judges hold their 
office, however valuable the provision in many other respects, materially vary 
the case. Its highest possible effect would be to retard, and not Jinally to re- 
sist, the will of a dominant majority. 

But it is useless to multiply arguments. Were it possible that reason could 
settle a question where the passions and interests of men are concerned, this 
point would have been long since settled forever by the State of Virginia. The 
report of her Legislature, to which I have already referred, has really, in my 
opinion, placed it beyond controversy. Speaking in reference to this subject, 
it says : " It has been objected" (to the right of a state to interpose for the pro- 
tection of her reserved rights) " that the judicial authority is to be regarded as 
the sole expositor of the Constitution. On this objection it might be observed, 
first, that there may be instances of usurped powers which the forms of the 
Constitution could never draw within the control of the judicial department ; 
secondly, that, if the decision of the judiciary be raised above the sovereign 
parties to the Constitution, the decisions of the other departments, not carried 
by the forms of the Constitution before the judiciary, must be equally author- 
itative and final with the decision of that department. But the proper answer 
to the objection is, that the resolution of the General Assembly relates to those 
great and extraordinary cases in which all the forms of the Constitution may 
prove ineffectual against infractions dangerous to the essential rights of the par- 
ties to it. The resolution supposes that dangerous powers, not delegated, may 
not only be usurped and executed by the other departments, but that the judi- 
cial department may also exercise or sanction dangerous powers, beyond the 
grant of the Constitution, and, consequently, that the ultimate right of the par- 
ties to the Constitution to judge whether the compact has been dangerously 
violated, must extend to violations by one delegated authority, as well as by an- 
other — by the judiciarj^, as well as by the executive or legislative." 

Against these conclusive arguments, as they seem to me, it is objected that, 
if one of the party has the right to judge of infractions of the Constitution, so 
has the other ; and that, consequently, in cases of contested powers between a 
state and the General Government, each would have a right to maintain its 
opinion, as is the case when sovereign powers differ in the construction of 
treaties or compacts, and that, of course, it would come to be a mere question 
of force. The error is in the assumption that the General Government is a 
party to the constitutional compact. The states, as has been shown, formed 
the compact, acting as sovereign and independent communities. The General 
Government is but its creature ; and though, in reality, a government, with all 
the rights and authority which belong to any other government, wnthin the orbit 
of its powers, it is, nevertheless, a government emanating from a compact be- 
tween sovereigns, and partaking, in its nature and object, of the character of a 
joint commission, appointed to superintend and administer the interests in which 
all are jointly concerned, but having, beyond its proper sphere, no more power 


facts and the clearest conclusions ; while to acknowledge its truth is to de- 
stroy utterly the objection that the appeal would be to force, in the case sup- 
posed. For, if each party has a right to judge, then, under our system of gov- 
ernment, the final cognizance of a question of contested power »vould be in the 
states, and not in the General Government. It would be the duty of the latter, 
as in all similar cases o[ a contest between one or more of the principals and 
a joint commission or agency, to refer the contest to the principals themselves. 
Such are the plain dictates of both reason and analogy. On no sound principle 
can the agents have a right to final cognizance, as against the principals much 
less to use force against them to maintain their construction of their powers. 
Such a right would be monstrous, and has never, heretofore, been claimed in 
similar cases. 

That the doctrine is applicable to the case of a contested power between the 
states and the General Government, we have the authority not only of reason 
and analogy, but of the distinguished statesman already referred to. Mr. Jef- 
ferson, at a late period of his Ufc, after long experience and mature reflection, 
says, " With respect to our State and Federal Governments, I do not think their 
relations are correctly understood by foreigners. They suppose the former 
are suljordinate to the latter. This is not the case. They are co-ordinate de- 
partments of one simple and integral whole. But you may ask. If the two de- 
partments should claim each the same subject of power, where is the umpire to 
decide between them ? In cases of little urgency or importance, the prudence 
of both parties will keep them aloof from the questionable ground ; but, if it can 
neither be avoided nor compromised, a convention of the states must be called 
to ascribe the doubtfid power to that department which they may think best." 
It is thus that our Constitution, by authorizing amendments, and by prescribing 
the authority and mode of making them, has, by a simple contrivance, with its 
characteristic wisdom, provided a power which, in the last resort, supersedes 
efiectually the necessity, and even the pretext for force : a power to which none 
can fairly object ; with which the interests of all are safe ; which can definitive- 
ly close all controversies in the only effectual mode, by freeing the compact of 
every defect and uncertainty, by an amendment of the instrument itself. It is 
impossible for human wisdom, in a system like ours, to devise another mode 
which shall be safe and efiectual, and, at the same time, consistent with what 
are the relations and acknowledged powers of the two great departments of our 
government. It gives a beauty and security peculiar to our system, which, if 
duly appreciated, will transmit its blessings to the remotest generations ; but, if 
not, our splendid anticipations of the future will prove but an empty dream. 
Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or 
a consolidated government ; a constitutional or absolute one ; a government 
resting ultimately on the solid basis of the sovereignty of the states or on the 
unrestrained will of a majority ; a form of government, as in all other unlimited 
ones, in which injustice, and violence, and force must finally prevail. Let it 
never Lc fonrottcn that, uhc.rc the majority rules without restriction, the minority 
is tfte subject ; and that, if we should absurdly attribute to the former the exclu- 
sive right of construing the Constitution, there would be, in fact, between the 
sovereign and subject, under such a government, no constitution, or, at least, 
nothing deserving the name, or serving the legitimate object of so sacred an 

How the states are to exercise this high power of interposition, which con- 
stitutes so essential a portion of their reserved rights that it cannot he dele<mted 
without an entire surrender of their sovereignty, and converting our system from 
a federal into a consolidated government, is a question that the states only are 
corapetent to determine. The arguments which prove that they possess the 
power, equally prove that they are, in the language of Jefferson, " the rightful 

well as the nature of the right itseU", forbids a recourse to it, except in cases of 
dangerous infractions of the Constitution ; and then only in the last resort, when 
all reasonable hope of relief from the ordinary action of the government has 
failed ; when, if the right to interpose did not exist, the alternative would be 

I submission and oppression on one side, or resistance by force on the other. 
That our system should afford, in such extreme cases, an intermediate point be- 
tween these dire alternatives, by which the government may be brought to a 
pause, and thereby an interval obtained to compromise differences, or, if im- 
practicable, be compelled to submit the question to a constitutional adjustment, 
through an appeal to the states themselves, is an evidence of its high wisdom : 
an element not, as is supposed by some, of weakness, but of strength ; not of 
anarchy or revolution, but of peace and safety. Its general recognition xvould 
of itself, in a great measure, if not altogether, supersede the necessity of its exer- 
cise, by impressing on the movements of the government that moderation and jus- 
tice so essential to harmony and peace, in a country of such vast extent and diver- 
sity of interests as ours ; and woidd, if controversy should come, turn the resent- 
ment of the aggrieved from the system to those who had abused its powers 
(a point all-important), and cause them to seek redress, 7iot in revolution or over- 
throw, but in reformation. It is, in fact, properly understood, a substitute, ivhere 
the alternative would he force, tending to prevent, and, if that fails, to correct peace- 
ably the aberrations to which all systems are liable, and which, if permitted to ac- 
cumulate without correction, must f nail y end in a general catastrophe. 

I have now said what I intended in reference to the abstract question of the 
relation of the states to the General Government, and would here conclude, did 
I not believe that a mere general statement on an abstract question, without in- 
cluding that which may have caused its agitation, would be considered by many 
imperfect and unsatisfactory. Feeling that such would be justly the case, I am 
compelled, reluctantly, to touch on the tariff, so far, at least, as may be neces- 
sary to illustrate the opinions which I have already advanced. Anxious, how- 
ever, to intrude as little as possible on the public attention, I will be as brief as 
possible ; and with that view will, as far as may be consistent with my object, 
avoid all debateable topics. 

Whatever diversity of opinion may exist in relation to the principle, or the 
effect on the productive industry of the country, of the present, or any other 
tariff of protection, there are certain political consequences flowing from the 
present which none can doubt, and all must deplore. It would be in vain to 
attempt to conceal, that it has divided the country into two great geographical 
divisions, and arrayed them against each other, in opinion at least, if not inter- 
ests also, on some of the most vital of political subjects — on its finance, its com- 
merce, and its industry — subjects calculated, above all others, in time of peace, 
to produce excitement, and in relation to which the tariff has placed the sec- 
tions in question in deep and dangerous conflict. If there be any point on 
which the (I vvas going to say, southern section, but to avoid, as far as possi- 
ble, the painful feelings such discussions are calculated to excite, I shall say) 

I weaker of the two sections is unanimous, it is that its prosperity depends, in a 
great measure, on free trade, light taxes, economical, and, as far as possible, 
equal disbursements of the public revenue, and unshackled industry, leaving 
them to pursue whatever may appear most advantageous to their interests. 
From the Potomac to the Mississippi, there are few, indeed, however divided 
on other points, who would not, if dependant on their volition, and if they re- 
garded the interest of their particular section only, remove from commerce and 
industry every shackle, reduce the revenue to the lowest point that the wants of 
the government fairly required, and restrict the appropriations to the most mod- 
erate scale consistent with the peace, the security, and the engagements of the 
public ; and who do not believe that the opposite system ia calculated to throw 

Kjii tiieiii ail uiit^v. 


On all these deeply-important measures, the opposite opinion prevails, if not 
with equal unanimity, with at least a greatly preponderating majority, in the other 
and stroncrer section ; so much so, that no two distinct nations ever entertained 
more opposite views of policy than these two sections do on all the important 
points to which I have referred. Nor is it less certain that this unhappy con- 
flict, llowing directly from the tariff, has extended itself to the halls of legislation, 
and has converted the deliberations of Congress into an annual struggle between 
the two sections ; the stronger to maintain and increase the superiority it has 
already acquired, and the other to throw off or diminish its burdens : a struggle 
in which all the noble and generous feelings of patriotism are gradually subsi- 
ding into sectional and selfish attachments.* Nor has the effect of this danger- 
ous conflict ended here. It has not only divided the two sections on the im- 
portant point already stated, but on the deeper and more dangerous questions, 
the constitutionality of a protective tariff, and the general principles and theory 
of the Constitution itself : the stronger, in order to maintain their superiority, 
giving a construction to the instrument which the other believes would convert 
the General Government into a consolidated, irresponsible government, wdth 
the total destruction of liberty ; and the weaker, seeing no hope of relief with 
such assumption of powers, turning its eye to the reserved sovereignty of the 
states, as the only refuge from oppression. I shall not extend these remarks, 
as I might, by showing that, while the effect of the system of protection was 
rapidly alienating one section, it was not less rapidly, by its necessary opera- 
tion, distracting and corrupting the other ; and, between the two, subjecting the 
administration to violent and sudden changes, totally inconsistent with all sta- 
bility and wisdom in the management of the affairs of the nation, of which we 
already see fearful symptoms. Nor do I deem it necessary to inquire whether 
this unhappy conflict grows out of true or mistaken views of interest on either 
or both sides. Regarded in either light, it ought to admonish us of the extreme 
danger to which our system is exposed, and the great moderation and wisdom 
necessary to preserve it. If it comes from mistaken views — if the interests of 
the two sections, as affected by the tariff, be really the same, and the system, in- 
stead of acting unequally, in reality diffuses equal blessings, and imposes equal 
burdens on every part — it ought to teach us how liable those who are differently 
shuated, and who view their interests under different aspects, are to come to 
different conclusions, even when their interests are strictly the same ; and, con- 
sequently, with what extreme caution any system of policy ought to be adopted, 
and with what a spirit of moderation pursued, in a country of such great extent 
and diversity as ours. But if, on the contrary, the conflict springs really from 
contrariety of interests — if the burden be on one side and the benefit on the 
other — then arc we taught a lesson not less important, how little regard we 
have for the interests of others while in pursuit of our own ; or, at least, how 
apt we are to consider our own interest the interest of all others ; and, of 
course, how great the danger, in a country of such acknowledged diversity of 
interests, of the oppression of the feebler l)y the stronger interest, and, in con- 
sequence of it, of the most fatal sectional conflicts. But whichever may be the 
cause, the real or supposed diversity of interest, it cannot be doubted that the 
political consequences of the prohibitory system, be its effects in other respects 
beneficial or otherwise, are really such as I have stated ; nor can it be doubted 
that a conflict between the great sections, on questions so vitally important, in- 
dicates a condition of the country so distempered and dangerous, as to demand 

♦ The system, if continued, must end, not only in subjecting the industry and property of the 
weaker section to the control of the stronger, but in proscription and political disfranchisement. It 
must finally control elections and appointments to offices, as well as acts of legislation, to the great 
increase of the feelings of animosity, and of the fatal tendency to a complete allenation'between the 

me mosi serious ana prompt attention. It is only when we come to consider 
of the remedy, that, under the aspect I am viewing the subject, there can be, 
among the informed and considerate, any diversity of opinion. 

Those who have not duly reflected on its dangerous and inveterate character 
suppose that the disease will cure itself; that events ought to be left to take 
their own course ; and that experience, in a short time, will prove that the in- 
terest of the whole community is the same in reference to the tariff, or, at least, 
whatever diversity there may now be, time will assimilate. Such has been 
their language from the beginning, but, unfortunately, the progress of events has 
been the reverse. The country is now more divided than in 1824, and then 
more than in 1816. The majority may have increased, but the opposite sides 
are, beyond dispute, more determined and excited than at any preceding period 
t ormerly, the system was resisted mainly as inexpedient ; but now, as uncon- 
stitutional, unequal, unjust, and oppressive. Then, relief was sought exclusive- 
ly from the General Government ; but now, many, driven to despair, are raisin<r 
their eyes to the reserved sovereignty of the states as the only refuoe If 
we turn from the past and present to the future, we shall find nothing to^lessen 
but much to aggravate the danger. The increasing embarrassment and distress 
ot the staple states, the growing conviction, from experience, that they are 
caused by the prohibitory system principally, and that, under its continued oper- 
ation, their present pursuits must become profitless, and with a conviction that 
their great and peculiar agricultural capital cannot be diverted from its ancient 
and hereditary channels without ruinous losses, all concur to increase, instead 
ot dispelling, the gloom that hangs over the future. In fact, to those who will 
duly relied on the subject, the hope that the disease will cure itself must ap- 
pear perfectly illusory. The question is, in reality, one between the exporting 
and non-exporting interests of the country. Were there no exports, there imuld 
be no tarijf. It would be perfectly useless. On the contrary, so lono- as there 
are stales which raise the great agricultural staples with the view of'obtainino- 
their supplies, and which must depend on the general market of the world fo? 
tlieir sales, the conflict must remain if the system should continue, and the dis- 
ease become more and more inveterate. Their interest, and that of those who 
by high duties, would confine the purchase of their supplies to the home mar- 
^^u T^^' ^"^^'^ ^^^ "^""^^ °^ i\\mgs, in reference to the tariff, be in conflict 
1 111, then, we cease to raise the great staples cotton, rice, and tobacco, for the 
general market, and till we can find some other profitable investment for the 
immense amount of capital and labour now employed in their production, the 
present unhappy and dangerous conflict cannot terminate, unless with the 'nro- 
rtibitory system itseif. ^ 

In the mean time, while idly waiting for its termination through its own ac- 
tion, the progress of events in another quarter is rapidly bringing' the contest to 
an immediate and decisive issue. We are fast approaching a period very novel 
m the history of nations, and bearing directly and powerfully on the point un- 
der consideration— the final payment of a long-standing funded debt— a period 
that cannot be greatly retarded, or its natural consequences eluded, without pro- 
ving disastrous to those who attempt either, if not to the country itself When 
'ifl'Z''^n]^^ government will find itself in possession of a surplus revenue of 
$10,000,000 or $12,000,000, if not previously disposed of— which presents the 
important question, What previous disposition ought to be made ? a question 
wliicli must press urgently for decision at the very next session of Congress, 
it cannot be delayed longer without the most distracting and dangerous conse- 

The honest and obvious course is, to prevent the accumulation of the surplus 
in the treasury by a timely and judicious reduction of the imposts ; and there- 
by to leave the money in the pockets of those who made it, and from whom it 
camot be honestly nor constitutionally taken, unless required by the fair and 

legitimate wants ol ttie government, it, neglecting a Disposition so ODvions 
and just, the government should attempt to keep- up the present high duties, 
when the money is no longer wanted, or to dispose of this immense surplus by 
enlarging the old, or devising new schemes of appropriations ; or, finding that 
to be impossible, it should adopt the most dangerous, unconstitutional, and ab- 
surd project ever devised by any government, of dividing the surplus among the 
states — a project which, if carried into execution, would not fail to create an an- 
tagonist interest between the states and General Government on all questions of 
appropriations, which would certainly end in reducing the latter to a mere office 
of collection and distribution — either of these modes would be considered by the 
section suffering under the present high duties as a fixed determination to per- 
petuate forever what it considers the present unequal, unconstitutional, and op-; 
pressive burden ; and from that moment it would cease to look to the General 
Government for relief. This deeply-intpesting period, which must prove so 
disastrous should a wrong direction be given, but so fortunate and glorious, 
should a right one, is just at hand. The work must commence at the next ses- 
sion, as I have stated, or be left undone, or, at least, be badly done. The suc- 
ceeding session would be too short, and too much agitated by the presidential 
contest, to afford the requisite leisure and calmness ; and the one succeeding 
•would find the country in the midst of the crisis, when it would be too late to 
prevent an accumulation of the surplus : which I hazard nothing in saying, 
judging from the nature of men and government, if once permitted to accumu- 
late, would create an interest strong enough to perpetuate itself, supported, as 
it would be, by others so numerous and powerful ; and thus would pass away a 
moment, never to be quietly recalled, so precious, if properly used, to lighten 
the public burden ; to equalize the action of the government ; to restore har- 
mony and peace ; and to present to the world the illustrious example, which 
could not fail to prove most favourable to the great cause of liberty everywhere^ 
of a nation the freest, and, at the same time, the best and most cheaply govern- 
ed ; of the highest earthly blessing at the least possible sacrifice. 

As the disease will not, then, heal itself, we are brought to the question, Can 
a remedy be applied ? and if so, what ought it to be ? 

To answer in the negative would be to assert that our Union has utterly fail- 
ed ; and that the opinion, so common before the adoption of our Constitution, 
that a free government could not be practically extended over a large country, 
■was correct ; and that ours had been destroyed by giving it limits so great as to 
comprehend, not only dissimilar, but irreconcilable interests. I am not prepared 
to admit a conclusion that would cast so deep a shade on the future, and that 
■would falsify all the glorious anticipations of our ancestors, while it would so 
greatly lessen their high reputation for wisdom. Nothing but the clearest dem- 
onstration, founded on actual experience, will ever force me to a conclusion 
so abhorrent to all my feelings. As strongly as I am impressed with the great 
dissimilarity, and, as I must add, as truth compels me to do, contrariety of inter- 
ests in our country, resulting from the causes already indicated, and which are 
so great that they caimot be subjected to the unchecked will of a majoritj- of 
the whole without defeating the great end of government, and without which it 
is a curse — ^justice — yet I see in the Ifnion, as ordained by the Constitution, the 
means, if wisely used, not only of reconciling all diversities, but also the means, 
and the only effectual one, of securing to us justice, peace, and security, at home 
and abroad, and with them that national power and renown, the love of which 
Providence has implanted, for wise purposes, so deeply in the human heart : in 
all of which great objects, every portion of our country, widely extended and di- 
versified as it is, has a common and identical interest. If we have the wisdom 
to place a proper relative estimate on these more elevated and durable blessings, 
the present and every other conflict of like character may be readily terminated ; 
but if, reversing the scale, each section should put a higher estimate on its im- 

ures of mere policy, without some regard to peace, harmony, or justice, our 
sectional conflicts would then, indeed, without some constitutional check, become 
interminable, except by the dissolution of the Union i-tself. That we have, in 
fact, so reversed the estimate, is too certain to be doubted, and the residt is our 
present distempered and dangerous condition. The cure must commence in 
the correction of the error ; and not to admit that we have erred would be the 
worst possible symptom. It would prove the disease to be incurable, through 
the regular and ordinary process of legislation ; and would compel, finally, a re- 
sort to extraordinary, but I still trust, not only constitutional, but safe remedies. 

No one would more sincerely rejoice than myself to see the remedy applied 
from the quarter where it could be most easily and regularly done. It is the 
only way by which those who think that it is the only quarter from which it 
can constitutionally come, can possibly sustain their opinion. To omit the ap- 
plication by the General Government would compel even them to admit the 
truth of the opposite opinion, or force them to abandon our political system in 
despair ; while, on the other hand, all their enlightened and patriotic opponents 
would rejoice at such evidence of moder'ation and wisdom, on the part of the 
General Government, as would supersede a resort to what they believe to be 
the higher powers of our political system, as indicating a sounder state of pub- 
lic sentiment than has ever heretofore existed in any country, and thus afford- 
ing the highest possible assurance of the perpetuation of our glorious institu- 
tions to the latest generation. For, as a people advance in knowledge, in the 
same degree they may dispense with mere artificial restrictions in their gov- 
ernment ; and we may imagine (but dare not expect to see it) a state of intelli- 
gence so universal and high, that all the guards of liberty may be dispensed with 
except an enlightened public opinion, acting through the right of suflrage ; but 
it presupposes a state where every class and every section of the commimity 
are capable of estimating the effects of every measure, not only as it may af- 
fect itself, but every other class and section ; and of fully realizing the sub- 
lime truth that the highest and wisest policy consists in maintaining justice, and 
promoting peace and harmony ; and that, compared to these, schemes of mere 
gain are but trash and dross. I fear experience has already proved that we 
are far removed from such a state, and that we must, consequently, rely on the 
old and clumsy, but approved mode of checking power, in order to prevent or 
correct abuses ; but I do trust that, though far from perfect, we are, at least, so 
much so as to be capable of remedying the present disorder in the ordinary 
way ; and thus to prove that with us public opinion is so enlightened, and our 
political machine so perfect, as rarely to require for its preservation the inter- 
vention of the power that created it. How is that to be effected ? 

The application may be painful, but the remedy, I conceive, is certain and 
simple. There is but one eflectual cure — an honest reduction of the duties to 
a fair system of revenue, adapted to the just and constitutional wants of the 
government. Nothing short of this will restore the country to peace, harmony, 
and mutual aflection. There is already a deep and growing conviction, in a 
large section of the country, that the impost, even as a revenue system, is ex- 
tremely unequal, and that it is mainly paid by those who furnish the means of 
paying the foreign exchanges of the country on which it is laid ; and that the 
case would not be varied, taking into the estimate the entire action of the sys- 
tem, whether the producer or consumer pays in the first instance. 

I do not propose to enter formally into the discussion of a point so complex 
and contested ; but, as it has necessarily a strong practical bearing on the sub- 
ject under consideration in all its relations, I cannot pass it without a tew gen- 
eral and brief remarks : 

If the producer in reality pays, none will doubt but the burden would mainly 
fall on the section it is supposed to do. The theory that the consumer pays in 

the first instance renders the proposition more complex, aim win require, in 
order to understand wliere the burden, in reality, uhimately falls, on that gup- 
position, to consider the protective, or, as its friends call it, the American Sys- 
tem, under its threefold aspect of taxation, of protection, and of distribution, or 
as performinsr, at the same time, the several functions of giving a revenue to the 
government, of affording protection to certain branches of domestic industry, and 
furnishing means to Congress of distributing large sums through its appropria- 
tions : all of which are so blended in their effects, that it is impossible to un- 
derstand its tnie operation without taking the whole into the estimate. 

Admitting, then, as supposed, that he who consumes the article pays the tax 
in the increased price, and that the burden falls wholly on the consumers, with- 
out affecting the producers as a class (which, by-the-by, is far from being 
true, except in the single case, if there be such a one, where the producers have 
a monopoly of an article so indispensable to life that the quantity consumed 
cannot be affected by any increase of price), and that, considered in the light 
of a tax merely, the impost duties fall equally on every section in proportion 
to its population, still, when combined with its other effects, the burden it im- 
poses as a tax may be so transferred from one section to the other as to take 
it from one and place it wholly on the other. Let us apply the remark first to 
its operation as a system of protection : 

The tendency of the tax or duty on the imported article is not only to 
raise its price, but also, in the same proportion, that of the domestic article of 
the same kind, for which purpose, when intended for protection, it is, in fact, 
laid ; and, of course, in determining where the system ultimately places the 
burden in reality, this effect, also, must be taken into the estimate. If one of 
the sections exclusively produces such domestic articles, and the other pur- 
chases them from it, then it is clear that, to the amount of such increased pri- 
ces, the tax or duty on the consumption of foreign articles would be transferred 
from the section producing the domestic articles to the one that purchased and 
consumed them, unless the latter, in turn, be indemnified by the increased price 
of the objects of its industry, which none will venture to assert to be the case 
"with the great staples of the country, which form the basis of our exports, the 
price of which is regulated by the foreign, and not the domestic market. To 
those who grow them, the increased price of the foreign and domestic articles 
both, in consequence of the duty on the former, is in reality, and in the strictest 
sense, a tax, while it is clear that the increased price of the latter acts as a 
bounty to the section producing them ; and that, as the amount of such increased 
prices on what it sells to the other section is greater or less than the duty it 
pays on the imported articles, the system will, in fact, operate as a bounty or 
tax : if greater, the difference Avould be a bounty ; if less, a tax. 

AgTvin, the operation may be equal in every other respect, and vet the pres- 
sure of the system, relatively, on the two sections, be rendered very unequal by 
the appropriations or distribution. If each section receives back what it paid 
into the treasury, the equality, if it previously existed, will continue ; but if one 
receives back less, and the other proportionably more than is paid, then the dif- 
ference in relation to the sections will be to the former a loss, and to the latter 
a gain ; and the system, in this aspect, would operate to the amount of the difl^'er- 
ence, as a contribution from the one receiving less than it paid to the other that 
receives more. Such would be incontestably its general effects, taken in all its 
different aspects, even on the theory supposed to be most favourable to prove 
the eiiual action of the system, that tlio consumer pays in the first instance the 
whole amount of the tax. 

To show how, on this supposition, the burden and advimtages of the system 
would actually distribute themselves between the sections, would carry me too 
far into details ; but I feel assured, after full and careful examination, that they 
are such as to explain what otherwise would seem inexplicable, that one sec- 

tiUli OllUUl 

such opposite views should be taken by them as to place them in a state of de- 
termined conflict in relation to the great fiscal and commercial interests of the 
country. Indeed, were there no satisfactory explanation, the opposite views 
that prevail in the two sections, as to the effects of the system, ought to satis- 
fy all of its unequal action. There can be no safer, or more certain rule, than 
to suppose each portion of the country equally capable of understanding their 
respective interests, and that each is a much better judge of the effects of any 
system or measures on its peculiar interest than the other can possibly be. 

But, whether the opinion of its unequal action be correct or erroneous, no- 
thing can be more certain than that the impression is widely extending itself, 
that the system, under all its modifications, is essentially unequal ; and if to 
that be added a conviction still deeper and more universal, that every duty im- 
posed/or the purpose of protection is not only unequal, hut also unconstitutional, 
it would be a fatal error to suppose that any remedy, short of that which I have 
stated, can heal our political disorders. 

In order to understand more fully the difficulty of adjusting this unhappy con- 
test on any other ground, it may not be improper to present a general view of 
the constitutional objection, that it may be clearly seen how hopeless it is to 
expect that it can be yielded by those who have embraced it. 

They believe that all the powers vested by the Constitution in Congress are 
not only restricted by the limitations expressly imposed, but also by the nature 
and object of the powers themselves. Thus, though the power to impose du- 
ties on imports be granted in general terms, without any other express limita- 
tions but that they shall be equal, and no preference shall be given to the ports 
of one state over those of another, yet, as being a portion of the taxing power 
given with the view of raising revenue, it is, from its nature, restricted to that 
object, as much so as if the Convention had expressly so limited it ; and that to 
use it to effect any other purpose not specified in the Constitution, is an infrac- 
tion of the instrument in its most dangerous form — an infraction by perversion, 
more easily made, and more difficult to resist, than any other. The same view 
is believed to be applicable to the power of regulating commerce, as well as all 
the other powers. To surrender this important principle, it is conceived, would 
be to surrender all power, and to render the government unlimited and despotic ; 
and to yield it up, in relation to the particular power in question, would be, in 
fact, to surrender the control of the whole industry and capital of the country to 
the General Government, and would end in placing the weaker section in a 
colonial relation with the stronger. For nothing are more dissimilar in their 
nature, or may be more unequally affected by the same laws, than different de- 
scriptions of labour and property ; and if taxes, by increasing the amount and 
changing the intent only, may be perverted, in fact, into a system of penalties 
and rewards, it would give all the power that could be desired to subject the 
labour and property of the minority to the will of the majority, to be regulated 
without regarding the interest of the former in subserviency to the will of the 
latter. Thus thinking, it would seem unreasonable to expect that any adjust- 
ment, based on the recognition of the correctness of a construction of the Con- 
stitution which would admit the exercise of such a power, would satisfy the 
weaker of two sections, particularly with its peculiar industry and property, 
which experience has shown may be so injuriously affected by its exercise. 
Thus much for one side. 

The just claim of the other ought to be equally respected. Whatever excite- 
ment the system has justly caused in certain portions of our country, I hope 
and believe all will conceive that the change should be made with the least pos- 
sible detriment to the interests of those who may be liable to be affected by it, 
consistently with what is justly due to others, and the principles of the Consti- 
tution. To effect this will require the kindest spirit of conciliation and the ut- 


most skill; but, even witti these, it wiu ne iiiipossiuie lu mat^v uic uausmuu 
without a shock, greater or less, though I trust, if judiciously effected, it will 
not be without many compensating advantages. That there will be some such 
cannot be doubted. It will, at least, be followed by greater stability, and will 
tend to harmonize the manufacturing with all of the other great interests of the 
country, and bind the whole in mutual affection. But these are not all. Another 
advanta'cre of essential importance to the ultimate prosperity of our manufactu- 
ring industry will follow. It will cheapen production; and, in that view, the loss 
of any one branch will be nothing like in proportion to the reduction of duty on 
that particular branch. Every reduction will, in fact, operate as a bounty to 
every other branch except the one reduced ; and thus the effect of a general re- 
duction will be to cheapen, universally, the price of production, by cheapening 
living, wages, and materials, so as to give, if not equal profits after the reduc- 
tion-^profits by no means reduced proportionally to the duties — an effect which, 
as it regards the foreign markets, is of the utmost importance. It must be ap- 
parent, on reflection, that the means adopted to secure the home market for our 
manufactures are precisely the opposite of those necessary to obtain the for- 
eign. In the former, the increased expense of production, in consequence of a 
system of protection, may be more than compensated by the increased price at 
home of the article protected ; but in the latter, this advantage is lost ; and, as 
there is no other corresponding compensation, the increased cost of production 
must be a dead loss in the foreign market. But whether these advantages, and 
many others that might be mentioned, will ultimately compensate to the full ex- 
tent or not the loss to the manufacturers, on the reduction of the duties, certain 
it is, that we have approached a point at which a great change cannot be nmch 
longer delayed; and that the more promptly it may be -met, the less excitement 
there will be, and the greater leisure and calmness for a cautious and skilful 
operation in making the transition ; and which it becomes those more immedi- 
ately interested duly to consider. Nor ought they to overlook, in considering 
the question, the different character of the claims of the two sides. The one 
asks from govermnent no advantage, but simply to be let alone in the undis- 
turbed possession of their natural advantages, and to secure which, as far as w-as 
consistent with the other objects of the Constitution, was one of their leading 
motives in entering into the Union ; while the other side claims, for the advance- 
ment of their prosperity, the positive interference of the government. In such 
cases, on every principle of fairness and justice, such interference ought to be 
restrained within limits strictly compatible with the natural advantages of the 
other. He who looks to all of the causes in operation, the near approach of 
the final payment of the public debt, the growing disaffection and resistance to 
the system in so large a section of the country, the deeper principles on which 
opposition to it is gradually turning, must be, indeed, infatuated not to see a 
great change is unavoidable ; and that the attempt to elude or much longer delay 
it must finally but increase the shock and disastrous consequences which may 

In forming the opinions I have expressed, I have not been actuated by an un- 
kind feeling towards our manufacturing interest. I now am, and ever have been, 
decidedly friendly to them, though I cannot concur in all of the measures which 
have been adopted to advance them. I believe considerations higher than any 
question of mere pecuniary interest forbade their use. But subordinate to these 
higher views of policy, I regard the advancement of mechanical and chemical 
improvements in the arts with feelings little short of enthusiasm ; not only as 
the prolific source of national and individual wealth, but as the great means of 
enlarging the domain of man over the material world, and thereby of laying the 
solid foundation of a highly-improved condition of society, morally and politi- 
cally. I fear not that we shall extend our power too far over the great agents 
of nature ; but, on the contrary, I consider such enlargement of our power as 

any one oi the many powertul causes nowoperaUng to that result. vVith these 
impressions, I not only rejoice at the general progress of the arts in the world, 
but in their advancement in our own country ; and as far as protection may be 
incidentally afforded, in the fair and honest exercise of our constitutional 
powers, I think now, as I have always thought, that sound policy, connected 
Avith the security, independence, and peace of the countr}% requires it should be 
done, but that we cannot go a single step beyond without jeopardizing our peace, 
our harmony, and our liberty — considerations of infinitely more importance to us 
than any measure of mere policy can possibly be. 

In thus placing my opinions before the public, I have not been actuated by 
the expectation of changing the public sentiment. Such a motive, on a ques- 
tion so long agitated, and so beset with feelings of prejudice and interest, would 
argue, on my part, an insufferable vanity, and a profound ignorance of the 
human heart. To avoid as far as possible the imputation of either, I have con- 
fined my statement, on the many and important points on which I have been 
compelled to touch, to a simple declaration of my opinion, without advancing 
any other reasons to sustain them than what appeared to me to be indispensa- 
ble to the full understanding of my views ; and if they should, on any point, be 
thought to be not clearly and explicitly developed, it will, I trust, be attributed 
to my solicitude to avoid the imputations to which I have alluded, and not from 
any desire to disguise my sentiments, nor the want of arguments and illustra- 
tions to maintain positions, which so abound in both, that it would require a 
volume to do them anything like justice. I can only hope that truths which, I 
feel assured, are essentially connected with all that we ought to hold most dear, 
may not be weakened in the public estimation by the imperfect manner in 
which I have been, by the object in view, compelled to present them. 

With every caution on my part, I dare not hope, in taking the step I have, to 
escape the imputation of improper motives ; though I have, without reserve, 
freely expressed my opinions, not regarding whether they might or might not 
be popular. I have no reason to believe that they are such as will conciliate 
public favour, but the opposite, which I greatly regret, as I have ever placed a 
high estimate on the good opinion of my fellow-citizens. But, be that as it 
may, I shall, at least, be sustained by feelings of conscious rectitude. I have 
formed my opinions after the most careful and deliberate examination, with all 
the aids which my reason and experience could furnish ; I have expressed 
them honestly and fearlessly, regardless of their effects personally, which, 
however interesting to me individually, are of too little importance to be taken 
into the estimate, where the liberty and happiness of our country are so vitally 
involved. John C. Calhoun. 

Fort HiU, Jidy 26a, 1831. 


MR. Calhoun's letter to general Hamilton on the subject of state 


Fort Hill, August 28th, 1832. 

My dear Sir — -I have received your note of the 31st July, requesting me 
to give you a fuller development of my views than that contained in my ad- 
dress last summer, on the right of a state to defend her reserved powers against 
the encroachments of the General Government. ' 

As fully occupied as my time is, were it doubly so, the quarter from which 
the request comes, with my deep conviction of the vital importance of the sub- 
ject, would exact a compliance. 

No one can be more sensible than 1 am that the address ot last summer fell 
far short of exhausting the subject. It was, in fact, intended as a simple state- 
ment of my views. I felt that the independence and candour which ought to 
distinf'uish one occupying a high public station, imposed a duty on me to meet 
the call for my opinion by a frank and full avowal of my sentiments, regardless 
of consequences. To fultil this duty, and not to discuss the subject, was the 
object of the address. But, in making these preliminary remarks, I do not in- 
tend to prepare you to expect a full discussion on the present occasion. What 
I propose is, to touch some of the more prominent points that have received less 
of the public attention than their importance seems to me to demand. 

Strange as the assertion may appear, it is, nevertheless, true, that the great 
difBculty in determining whether a state has the right to defend her reserved 
powers against the General Government, or, in fact, any right at all beyond 
those of a mere corporation, is to bring the public mind to realize plain histor- 
ical facts connected with the origin and formation of the government. Till 
they are fully understood, it is impossible that a correct and just view can be 
taken of the subject. In this connexion, the first and most important point is 
to ascertain distinctly who are the real authors of the Constitution of tire Uni- 
ted States — whose powers created it — whose voice clothed it with authority; 
and whose agent the government it formed in reality is. At this point, I com- 
mence the execution of the task which your request has imposed. 

The formation and adoption of the Constitution are events so recent, and all 
the connected facts so fully attested, that it would seem impossible that there 
should be the least uncertainty in relation to them ; and yet, judging by what is 
constantly heard and seen, there are few subjects on which the public opinion 
is more confused. The most indefinite expressions are habitually used in speak- 
ing of them. Sometimes it is said that the Constitution was made by the 
states, and at others, as if in contradistinction, by the people, without distin- 
guishing between the two very different meanings which may be attached to 
those general expressions ; and this, not in ordinary conversation, but in grave 
discussions before deliberate bodies, and in judicial investigations, where the 
greatest accuracy on so important a point might be expected ; particularly as 
one or the other meaning is intended, conclusions the most opposite must fol- 
low, not only in reference to the subject of this communication, but as to the 
nature and character of our political system. By a state may be meant either 
the government of a state or the people, as forming a separate and independent 
community ; and by the people, either the American people taken collectively, 
as forming one great connnunity, or as the people of the several states, forming, 
as above stated, separate and independent communities. These distinctions 
are essential in the inquiry. If by the people be meant the people collective- 
ly, and not the people of the several states taken separately ; and if it be true, 
indeed, that the Constitution is the work of the American people collectively ; 
if it originated with them, and derives its authority from their will, then there 
is an end of tlie argument. The right claimed for a state of defending her re- 
served powers against the General Government would be an absurdity. View- 
ing the American people collectively as the source of political power, the rights 
of the states would be mere concessions — concessions from the common major- 
ity, and to be revoked by them with the same facility that they were granted. 
The states would, on this supposition, bear to the Union the same relation that 
counties do to the states ; and it would, in that case, be just as preposterous to 
discuss the right of interposition, on the part of a state, against the General 
Government, as that of the counties against the states themselves. That a 
large portion of the people of the United States thus regard the relation between 
the state and the General Government, including many who call themselves 
the friends of State-rights and opponents of consolidation, can scarcely be doubt- 
ed, as it is only on that supposition it can be explained that so many of that 

from the Constitution being the work of the American people collectively, no 
such political body either now, or ever did. exist. In that character the people 
of this country never performed a single political act, nor, indeed, can, without 
an entire revolution in all our political relations. 

I challenge an instance. From the beginning, and in all the changes of po- 
litical existence through which we have passed, the people of the United 
States have been united as forming political communities, and not as individ- 
uals. Even in the first stage of existence, they formed distinct colonies, inde- 
pendent of each other, and politically united only through the British crown. 
In their first imperfect union, for the purpose of resisting the encroachments of 
the mother-country, they united as distinct political communities ; and, passing 
from their colonial condition, in the act announcing their independence to the 
world, they declared themselves, by name and enumeration, free and inde- 
pendent states. In that character, they formed the old confederation ; and, when 
it was proposed to supersede the articles of the confederation by the present 
Constitution, they met in convention as states, acted and voted as states ; and 
the Constitution, when formed, was submitted for ratification to the people of 
the several states : it was ratified by them as states, each state for itself ; each 
by its ratification binding its own citizens ; the parts thus separately binding 
themselves, and not the whole the parts ; to wTiich, if it be added, that it is de- 
clared in the preamble of the Constitution to be ordained by the people of the 
United States, and in the article of ratification, when ratified, it is declared " to 
be binding between the states so xatifyingr The conclusion is inevitable, that 
the Constitution is the work of the people of the states, considered as separate 
and independent political communities ; that they are its authors — their power 
created it, their voice clothed it with authority — that the government formed is, 
in reality, their agent ; and that the Union, of which the Constitution is the 
bond, is a union of states, and not of individuals. No one, Avho regards his 
character for intelligence and truth, has ever ventured directly to deny facts so 
certain ; but while they are too certain for denial, they are also too conclusive 
in favour of the rights of the states for admission. The usual course has been 
adopted — to elude what can neither be denied nor admitted ; and never has the 
device been more successfully practised. By confounding states with state 
governments, and the people of the states with the American people collective- 
ly — things, as it regards the subject of this communication, totally dissimilar, 
as much so as a triangle and a square — facts of themselves perfectly certain and 
plain, and which, when well understood, must lead to a correct conception of 
the subject, have been involved in obscurity and mystery. 

I will next proceed to state some of the results which necessarily follow 
from the facts which have been established. 

The first, and, in reference to the subject of this communication, the most im- 
portant, is, that there is no direct and immediate connexion between the indi- 
vidual citizens of a state and the General Government. The relation between 
them is through the state. The Union is a union of states as communities, 
and not a union of individuals. As members of a state, her citizens were 
originally subject to no control but that of the state, and could be subject to 
no other, except by the act of the state itself The Constitution was, accord- 
ingly, submitted to the states for their separate ratification ; and it was only by 
the ratification of the state that its citizens became subject to the control of the 
General Government. The ratification of any other, or all the other states, 
without its own, could create no connexion between them and the General 
Government, nor impose on them the slightest obligation. Without the ratifi- 
cation of their own state, they would stand in the same relation to the General 
Government as do the citizens or subjects of any foreign state ; and we find the 

ClllZeUS Ul i>UUIl v^ciiuima ciinj. i.iil^^^ ^^^^..^ j — ^ 

the government for some time after it went into operation ; these states having, 
in the first instance, declined to ratify. Nor had the act of any individual the 
least influence in subjecting him to the control of the General Government, ex- 
cept as it mif^ht influence the ratification of the Constitution by his own state. 
Whether subject to its control or not, depended wholly on the act of the state. 
His dissent had not the least weight against the assent of his state, nor his as- 
sent against its dissent. It follows, as a necessary consequence, that the act 
of ratification bound the state as a community, as is expressly declared in the 
! article of the Constitution above quoted, and not the citizens of the state as in- 
dividuals : the latter being bound through their state, and in consequence of the 
ratification of the former. Another, and a highly important consequence, as it 
regards the subject under investigation, follows with equal certainty : that, on a 
question whether a particular power exercised by the General Government be 
granted by the Constitution, it belongs to the state as a member of the Union, 
in her sovereign capacity in convention, to determine definitively, as far as her 
citizens are concerned, the extent of the obligation which she contracted ; and 
if, in her opinion, the act exercising the power be unconstitutional, to declare it 
null and void, which declaration ivould be obligatory on her citizens. In coming 
to this conclusion, it may be proper to remark, to prevent misrepresentation, 
that I do not claim for a state the right to abrogate an act of the General Gov- 
ernment. It is the Constitution that annuls an unconstitutional act. Such an 
act is of itself void and of no effect. What I claim is, the right of the state, 
as far as its citizens are concerned, to declare the extent of the obligation, and 
that such declaration is binding on thc?n — a right, when limited to its citizens, 
flowing directly from the relation of the state to the General Government on the 
one side, and its citizens on the other, as already explained, and resting on 
the most plain and solid reasons. 

Passing over, what of itself might be considered conclusive, the obvious prin- 
ciple, that it belongs to the authority which imposed the obligation to declare 
its extent, as far as those are concerned on whom the obligation is placed, I 
shall present a single argmnent, which of itself is decisive. I have already 
shown that there is no immediate connexion between the citizens of a state 
and the General Government, and that the relation between them is through the 
state. I have also shown that, whatever obligations were imposed on the cit- 
izens, were imposed by the act of the state ratifying the Constitution. A sim- 
ilar act by the same authority, made with equal solemnity, declaring the extent 
of the obligation, must, as far as they are concerned, be of equal authority. I 
speak, of course, on the supposition that the right has not been transferred, as 
it will hereafter be shown that it has not. A citizen would have no more right 
to question the one than he would have the other declaration. They rest on 
the same authority ; and as he was bound by the declaration of his state as- 
senting to the Constitution, whether he assented or dissented, so would he be 
equally bound by a declaration declaring the extent of that assent, whether op- 
posed to, or in favour of, such declaration. In this conclusion I am supported 
by analog)--. The case of a treaty between sovereigns is strictly analogous. 
There, as in this case, the state contracts for the citizen or subject ; there, as 
in this, the obligation is imposed by the state, and is independent of his will ; 
and there, as in this, the declaration of the state, determining the extent of 
the obligation contracted, is obligatory on him, as much so as the treaty itself. 

Having now, I trust, established the very important point, that the declara- 
tion of a state, as to the extent of the power granted, is obligatory on its citi- 
zens, I shall next proceed to consider the effects of such declarations in refer- 
ence to the General Government : a question which necessarily involves the 
consideration of the relation between it and the states. It has been shown that 
the people of the states, acting as disthict and independent communities, are the 

of its departments, is, in fact, the agent of the states, constituted to execute their 
joint will, as expressed in the Constitution. 

In usinff the term agent, I do not intend to derogate in any degree from its 
character as a government. It is as truly and properly a government as are 
the state governments themselves. I have applied it simply because it strictly 
belongs to the relation between the General Government and the states, as, in 
fact, it does also to that between a state and its own government. Indeed, ac- 
cording to our theory, governments are in their nature but trusts, and thosfe ap- 
pointed to administer them trustees or agents to execute the trust powers. 
The sovereignty resides elsewhere — in the people, not in the government ; and 
with us, the people mean the people of the several states originally formed into 
thirteen distinct and independent communities, and now into twenty-four. Po- 
litically speaking, in reference to our own system, there are no other people. 
The General Government, as well as those of the states, is but the organ of 
their power: the latter, that of their respective states, through which are exer- 
cised separately that portion of power not delegated by the Constitution, and in 
the exercise of which each state has a local and peculiar interest ; the former, 
the joint organ of all the states confederated into one general comm.unity, arid 
through which they jointly and concurringly exercise the delegated powers, in 
which all have a common interest. Thus viewed, the Constitution of the Uni- 
ted States, with the government it created, is truly and strictly the Constitution 
of each state, as much so as its own particular Constitution and government, 
ratified by the same authority, in the same mode, and having, as far as its citi- 
zens are concerned, its powers and obligations from the same source, differing 
only in the aspect, under which I am considering the subject, in the plighted 
faith of the state to its co-states, and of which, as far as its citizens are con- 
sidered, the state, in the last resort, is the exclusive judge. 

Such, then, is the relation between the state and General Government, in 
whatever light we may consider the Constitution, whether as a compact be- 
tween the states, or of the nature of the legislative enactment by the joint and 
concurring authority of the states in their high sovereignty. In whatever light 
it may be viewed, I hold it as necessarily resulting, that, in the case of a power 
disputed between them, the government, as the agent, has no right to enforce 
its construction against the construction of the state as one of the sovereign 
parties to the Constitution, any more than the state government would have 
against the people of the state in their sovereign capacity, the relation being 
the same between them. That such would be the case between agent and 
principal in the ordinary transactions of life, no one will doubt, nor will it be 
possible to assign a. reason why it is not as applicable to the case of gov- 
ernment as to that of individuals. The principle, in fact, springs from the re- 
latio7i itself, and is applicable to it in all its forms and characters. It may, how- 
ever, be proper to notice a distinction between the case of a single principal 
and his agent, and that of several principals and their joint agent, which might 
otherwise cause some confusion. In both cases, as between the agent and a 
principal, the construction of the principal, whether he be a single principal or 
one of several, is equally conclusive ; but, in the latter case, both the principal 
and the agent bear relation to the other principals, which must be taken into 
the estimate, in order to understand fully all the results which may grow out of 
the contest for power between them. Though the construction of the principal 
is conclusive against the joint agent, as between them, such is not the case be- 
tween him and his associates. They both have an equal right of construction, 
and it would be the duty of the agent to bring the subject before the principal 
to be adjusted, according to the terms of the instrument of association, and of 
the principal to submit to such adjustment. In such cases the contract itself 

to it The General Uovernmeni is a cuae ui juuu agoii.._y — .^ic jwx... agoi.i, kji 
the twentv-four sovereign states. It would be its duty, according to the prin- 
ciples established in such cases, instead of attempting to enforce Us construc- 
tion of its powers against that of the states, to bring the subject before the states 
themselves, in the only form which, according to the provision of the Constitu- 
tion it can' be— by a proposition to amend, in the manner prescribed in the in- 
strument, to be acted on by them in the only mode they can, by expressly grant- 
ing or withholding the contested power. Against this conclusion there can be 
rafsed but one objection, that the states have surrendered or transferred the 
right in question. If such be the fact, there ought to be no difficulty in estab- 
lishintT it. The grant of the powers delegated is contained in a written instru- 
ment.'drawn up with great care, and adopted with the utmost deliberation. It 
provides that the powers not granted are reserved to the states and the people. 
If it be surrendered, let the grant be shown, and the controversy will be ter- 
minated ; and, surely, it ought to be shown, plainly and clearly shown, before 
the states are asked to admit what, if true, would not only divest them of a right 
tvhich, under all its forms, belongs to the principal over his agent, unless surren- 
dered, but which cannot be surrendered without in effect, and for all practical 
purposes, reversing the relation between them ; putting the agent in the place 
of the principal, and the principal in that of the agent ; and which would de- 
grade the states from the high and sovereign condition which they have ever 
held, under every form of their existence, to be mere subordinate and dependant 
corporations of the government of its own creation. But, instead of showing 
any such grant, not a provision can be found in the Constitution authorizing the 
General Government to exercise any control ivhatever over a state by force, by 
veto, by judicial process, or in any other form— a most iinportant omission, de- 
signed, and not accidental, and, as will be shown in the course of these remarks, 
omitted by the dictates of the profoundest wisdom. 

The journal and proceedings of the Convention which formed the Constitu- 
tion afford abundant proof that there was in the body a powerful party, distin- 
guished for talents and influence, intent on obtaining for the General Govern- 
ment a grant of the very power in question, and that they attempted to eflect 
this object in all possible ways, but, fortunately, without success. The first 
project of a Constitution submitted to the Convention (Governor Randolph's) 
embraced a proposition to grant power " to negative all laws contrary, in the opin- 
ion of the National Legislature, to the articles of the Union, or any treaty sub- 
sisting under the authority of the Union ; and to call forth the force of the Union 
against any member of the Union failing to fulfil his duty under the articles 
thereof." The next project submitted (Charles Pinckney's) contained a simi- 
lar provision. It proposed, "that the Legislature of the United States should 
have the power to revise the laws of the several states that may be supposed 
to infringe the powers exclusively delegated by this Constitution to Congress, 
and to negative and annil! such as do." The next was submitted by Mr. Pat- 
erson, of New-Jersey, which provided, "if any state, or body of men in any 
state, shall oppose or prevent the carrying into execution such acts or treaties" 
(of the Union), " the federal executive shall be authorized to call forth the pow- 
ers of the confederated states, or so much thereof as shall be necessary to en- 
force, or compel the obedience to such acts, or observance of such treaties." 
General Hamilton's next succeeded, which declared " all laws of the particu- 
lar states contrary to the Constitution or laws of the United States, to be ut- 
terly void ; and, the better to prevent such laws being passed, the governor or 
president of each state shall be appointed by the General Government, and 
shall have a negative on the laws about to be passed in the state of which he 
is governor or president." 

At a subsequent period, a proposition was moved and referred to a committee 

trOVersKis Ut/iwecii iiio uiiii-t;u kjiaics anu. any iiiuiviuuai otaoc , aiiu, ai, a suil 

later period, it was moved to grant power " to negative all laws passed by the 
several states interfering, in the opinion of the Legislature, with the general 
harmony and interest of the Union, provided that two thirds of the members of 
each house assent to the same," which, after an ineffectual attempt to commit, 
was withdrawn. 

I do not deem it necessary to trace through the journals of the Convention 
the fate of these various propositions. It is sufficient that they were moved 
and failed, to prove conclusively, in a manner never to be reversed, that the 
Convention which framed the Constitution was opposed to granting the power 
to the General Government in any form, through any of its departments, legis- 
lative, executive, or judicial, to coerce or control a state, though proposed in all 
conceivable modes, and sustained by the most talented and influential members 
of the body. This, one would suppose, ought to settle forever the question of 
the surrender or transfer of the power under consideration ; and such, in fact, 
would be the case, were the opinion of a large portion of the community not bi- 
ased, as, in fact, it is, by interest. A majority have almost always a direct in- 
terest in enlarging the power of the government, and the interested adhere to 
power with a pertinacity which bids defiance to truth, though sustained by evi- 
dence as conclusive as mathematical demonstration ; and, accordingly, the ad- 
vocates of the powers of the General Government, notwithstanding the impreg- 
nable strength of the proof to the contrary, have boldly claimed, on construc- 
tion, a power, the grant of which was so perseveringly sought and so sternly 
resisted by the Convention. They rest the claim on the provisions in the 
Constitution which declare " that this Constitution, and the laws made in pur- 
suance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land," and that " the judicial 
power shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitu- 
tion, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, 
under their authority." 

I do not propose to go into a minute examination of these provisions. They 
have been so frequently and so ably investigated, and it has been so clearly 
shown that they do not warrant the assumption of the power claimed for the 
government, that I do not deem it necessary. I shall, therefore, confine myself 
to a few detached remarks. 

I have already stated that a distinct proposition was made to confer the very 
power in controversy on the Supreme Court, which failed ; which of itself 
ought to overrule the assumption of the power by construction, unless sustained 
by the most conclusive argimients ; but when it is added that this proposition 
was moved (20th August) subsequent to the period of adopting the provisions, 
above cited, vesting the court with its present powers (18th July), and that an 
effort was made, at a still later period (23d August), to invest Congress with a 
negative on all state laws which, in its opinion, might interfere with the gen- 
eral interest and harmony of the Union, the argimient would seem too conclu- 
sive against the powers of the court to be overruled by construction, however 

Passing by, however, this, and also the objection that the terms cases in law 
and equity are technical, embracing only questions between parties amenable to 
the process of the court, and, of course, excluding questions between the states 
and the General Government — an argument which has never been answered — 
there remains another objection perfectly conclusive. 

The construction which would confer on the Supreme Court the power in 
question, rests on the ground that the Constitution has conferred on that tribu- 
nal the high and important right of deciding on the constitutionality aflaws. 
That it possesses this power I do not deny, but I do utterly that it is conferred 
by the Constitution, either by the provisions above cited, or any other. It is a 


by the Supreme Court exclusively or peculiarly, it not only belongs to every 
court of the country, high or low, civil or criminal, but to all foreign courts, be- 
fore which a case may be brought involving the construction of a law which may 
conflict with the provisions of the Constitution. The reason is plain. Where 
there are two sets of rules prescribed in reference to the same subject, one by 
a higher and the other by an inferior authority, the judicial tribunal called in 
to decide on the case must unavoidably determine, should they convict, which is 
the law ; and that necessity compels it to decide that the rule prescribed by the 
inferior power, if in its opinion inconsistent with that of the higher, is void, be it a 
conflict between the Constitution and a law, or between a charter and the by-laws 
of a corporation, or any other higher and inferior authority. The principle and 
source of authority are the same in all such cases. Being derived from neces- 
sity, it is restricted within its limits, and cannot pass an inch beyond the nar- 
row confines of deciding in a case before the court, and, of course, between par- 
ties amenable to its process, excluding thereby political questions, which of the 
two is, in reality, the law, the act of Congress or the Constitution, when on 
their face they are inconsistent ; and yet, from this resulting limited power, de- 
rived from necessity, and held in common with every court in the world which, 
by possibility, may take cognizance of a case involving the interpretation of our 
Constitution and laws, it is attempted to confer on the Supreme Court a power 
Avhich would work a thorough and radical change in our system, and which, 
moreover, was positively refused by the Convention. 

The opinion that the General Government has the right to enforce its con- 
struction of its powers against a state, in any mode whatever, is, in truth, found- 
ed on a fundamental misconception of our system. At the bottom of this, and, 
in fact, almost every other misconception as to the relation between the states 
and the General Government, lurks the radical error, that the latter is a national, 
and not, as in reality it is, a confederated government ; and that it derives its 
powers from a higher source than the states. There are thousands influenced 
by these impressions without being conscious of it, and who, while they believe 
themselves to be opposed to consolidation, have infused into their conception 
of our Constitution almost all the ingredients which enter into that form of 
government. The striking difTerence between the present government and that 
imder the old confederation (I speak of governments as distinct from constitu- 
tions) has mainly contributed to this dangerous impression. But, however dis- 
similar their governments, the present Constitution is as far removed from coh' 
solidalion, and is as strictly and as imrely a confederation, as the one which it su- 

Like the old confederation, it was formed and ratified by state authority. The 
only diflerence in this particular is, that one was ratified by the people of the 
states, and the other by the state governments ; one forming strictly a union of 
the state governments, the other of the states themselves ; one, of the agents ex- 
ercising the powers of sovereignty, and the other, of the sovereigns themselves ; 
but both were unions of })olitical bodies, as distinct from a union of the people 
individually. They are, indeed, both confederations, but the present in a higher 
and purer sense than that which it succeeded, just as the act of a sovereign 
is higher and more perfect than that of his agent ; and it was, doubtless, in ref- 
erence to this diUcrencc that the preamble of the Constitution, and the address 
of the Convention laying the Constitution before Congress, speak of consolida- 
ting and perfecting the Union ; yet this diflerence, which, while it elevated the 
General Government in relation to the state governments, placed it more imme- 
diately in the relation of the creature and agent of the states themselves, by a 
natural misconception, has been the principal cause of the impression so preva- 
lent of the inferiority of the states to the General Government, and of the con- 
sequent right of the latter to coerce the former. Raised from below to the same 


I have now, I trust, conclusively shown that a state has a right, in her sov- 
ereign capacity, in convention, to declare an unconstitutional act of Congress to 
be null and void, and that such declarations would be obligatory on her citizens, 
as highly so as the Constitution itself, and conclusive against the General Gov- 
ernment, which would have no right to enforce its construction of its powers 
' against that of the state. 

! I next propose to consider the practical effect of the exercise of this high and 
important right— -which, as the great conservative principle of our system, is 
known under the various names of nullification, interposition, and state veto — in 
reference to its operation viewed under different aspects : nullification, as de- 
claring null an unconstitutional act of the General Government, as far as the 
state is concerned ; interposition, as throwing the shield of protection between 
the citizens of a state and the encroachments of the Government ; and veto, as 
arresting or inhibiting its unauthorized acts within the limits of the state. 

The practical effect, if the right was fully recognised, would be plain and 
simple, and has already, in a great measure, been anticipated. If the state has 
a right, there must, of necessity, be a corresponding obligation on the part of 
the General Government to acquiesce in its exercise ; and, of course, it would 
be its duty to abandon the power, at least as far as the state is concerned, to 
compromise the difSculty, or apply to the states themselves, according to the 
form prescribed in the Constitution, to obtain the power by a grant. If granted, 
acquiescence, then, would be a duty on the part of the state ; and, in that event, 
the contest would terminate in converting a doubtful constructive power into one 
positively granted ; but, should it not be granted, no alternative would remain for 
the General Government but a compromise or its permanent abandonment. In 
either event, the controversy would be closed and the Constitution fixed : a re- 
suh of the utmost importance to the steady operation of the government and the 
stability of the system., and which can never be attained, under its present opera- 
tion, without the recognition of the right, as experience has shown. 

From the adoption of the Constitution, we have had but one continued agita- 
tion of constitutional questions embracing some of the most important powers 
exercised by the government ; and yet, in spite of all the ability and force of 
argument displayed in the various discussions, backed by the high authority 
claimed for the Supreme Court to adjust such controversies, not a single con- 
stitutional question, of a political character, which has ever been agitated during 
this long period, has been settled in the public opinion, except that of the un- 
constitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Law ; and, what is remarkable, that 
was settled against the decision of the Supreme Court. ^ The tendency is to in- 
crease, and not diminish, this conflict for power. New questions are yearly 
added without diminishing the old ; while the contest becomes more obstinate 
as the list increases, and, what is highly ominous, more sectional. It is im- 
possible that the government can last under this increasing diversity of opinion, 
find growing uncertainty as to its power in relation to the most important sub- 
jects of legislation ; and equally so, that this dangerous state can terminate 
without a power somewhere to compel, in effect, the government to abandon 
doubtful constructive powers, or to convert them into positive grants by an 
amendment of the Constitution ; in a word, to substitute the positive grants of 
the parties themselves for the constructive powers interpolated by the agents. 
Nothing short of this, in a system constructed as ours is, with a double set of 
agents, one for local and the other for general purposes, can ever terminate the 
conflict for power, or give uniformity and stability to its action. 

Such would be the practical and happy operation were the ri^ht recognised ; 
but the case is far otherwise ; and as the right is not only denied, but violently 
opposed, the General Government, so far from acquiescing in its exercise, and 

abandoning the power, as it ought, may endeaA-our, by all the means within its 
command to enforce its construction against that of the state. It is under this 
aspect of the question that I now propose to consider the practical effect of the 
exercise of the ri^ht, with the view to determine which of the two, the state or 
the General Government, must prevail in the conflict ; which compels nae to 
revert to some of the grounds already established. 

I have already shown that the declaration of nullification would be obligatory 
on the citizens of the state, as much so, in fact, as its declaration ratifying the 
Constitution, resting, as it does, on the same Ijasis. It would to them be the 
hio^hest possible evidence that the power contested was not granted, and, of 
course, that the act of the General Government was unconstitutional. They 
Avould be bound, in all the relation.s. of life, private and political, to respect and 
obey it ; and, when called upon as jurymen, to render their verdict according- 
ly, or, as judges, to pronounce judgment in conformity to it. The right of jury 
trial is secured by the Constitution (thanks to the jealous spirit of liberty, 
doubly secured and fortified) ; and, with this inestimable right — inestimable, not 
only as an essential portion of the judicial tribunals of the country, but infinitely 
more so, considered as a popular, and still more, a local representation, in that 
department of the government which, without it, would be the farthest removed 
from the control of the people, and a fit instrument to sap the foundation of the 
system — with, I repeat, this inestimable right, it would be impossible for the Gen- 
eral Government, within the limits of the state, to execute, legally, the act nulli- 
fied, or any other passed with a view to enforce it ; while, on the other hand, the 
state would be able to enforce, legally and peaceably, its declaration of nullification. 
Sustained by its court and juries, it would calmly and quietly, but successfully, 
meet every effort of the General Government to enforce its claim of power. 
The result would be inevitable. Before the judicial tribunal of the country, the 
state must prevail, miless, indeed, jury trial could be eluded by the refinement 
of the court, or by some other device ; which, however, guarded as it is by the 
ramparts of the Constitution, would, I hold, be impossible. The attempt to 
elude, should it be made, would its.elf be iraconstitutional ; and, in turn, would 
be annulled by the sovereign voice of the state. Nor would the right of appeal 
to the Supreme Court, under the judiciary act, avail the General Government.. 
If taken, it would but end in a new trial, and that in another verdict against the 
government ; but whether it may be taken, would be optional with the state. 
The court itself has decided that a copy of the record is requisite to review a 
judgment of a state court, and, if necessary, the state would take the precaution 
to prevent, by proper enactments, any means of obtaining a copy. But if ob- 
tained, what would it avail against the execution of the penal enactments of the 
state, intended to enforce the declaration of nullification ? The judgment of 
the state court would be pronounced and executed before the possibility of a 
reversal, and executed, too, without responsibility incurred by any one. 

Beaten before the courts, the General Government Avould be compelled to 
abandon its unconstitutional pretensions, or resort to force : a resort, the diffi- 
culty (I was about to say, the impossibility) of which would very soon fully 
manifest itself, should folly or madness ever make the attempt. 

In considering this aspect of the controversy, I pass over the fact that the 
General Government has no right to resort to force against a state — to coerce a 
sovereign member of the Union — which, I trust, I have established beyond all 
possible doubt. Let it, however, be determined to use force, and the difficulty 
Avould be insurmountable, unless, indeed, it be also determined to set aside the 
Constitution, and to subvert the system to its foundations. 

Against whom would it be applied ? Congress has, it is true, the right to 
call forth the militia " to execute the laws and suppress insurrection ;" but 
there would be no law resisted, unless, indeed, it be called resistance for the 
juries to refuse to find, and the courts to render judgment, in conformity to the 

force to reduce ; not a sword unsheathed ; not anbayonet raised ; none, absolute- 
ly none, on whom force could be used, except it be on the unarmed citizens en- 
gaged peaceably and quietly in their daily occupations. 

No one would be guilty of treason (" levying war against the United States, 
adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort"), or any other crime 
made penal by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. 

To suppose that force could be called in, implies, indeed, a great mistake, 
both as to the nature of our government and that of the controversy. It would 
be a legal and constitutional contest — a conflict of moral, and not physical force — 
a trial of constitutional, not military power, to be decided before the judicial 
tribunals of the country, and not on the field of battle. In such contest, there 
would be no object for force, but those peaceful tribunals — nothing on which it 
could be employed, but in putting down courts and juries, and preventing *the 
execution of judicial process. Leave these untouched, and all the militia that 
could be called forth, backed by a regular force of ten times the number of our 
small, but gallant and patriotic army, could have not the slightest effect on the 
result of the controversy ; but subvert these by an armed body, and you subvert 
the very foundation of this our free, constitutional, and legal system of govern- 
ment, and rear in its place a military despotism. 

Feeling the force of these difficulties, it is proposed, with the view, I suppose, 
of disembarrassing the operation, as much as possible, of the troublesome inter- 
ference of courts and juries, to change the scene of coercion from land to water ; 
as if the government could have one particle more right to coerce a state by 
water than by laud ; but, unless I am greatly deceived, the difficulty on that 
element will not be much less than on the other. The jury trial, at least the 
local jury trial (the trial by the vicinage), may, indeed, be evaded there, but 
in its place other, and not much less formidable, obstacles must be encoun- 

There can be but two modes of coercion resorted to by water — blockade and 
abolition of the ports of entry of the state, accompanied by penal enactments, 
authorizing seizures for entering the waters of the state. If the former be at- 
tempted, there will be other parties besides the General Government and the 
state. Blockade is a belligerent right ; it presupposes a state of war, and, 
unless there be war (war in due form, as prescribed by the Constitution), the 
order for blockade would not be respected by other nations or their subjects. 
Their vessels would proceed directly for the blockaded port, with certain pros- 
pects of gain ; if seized under the order of blockade, through the claim of in- 
demnity against the General Government; and, if not, by a profitable market, 
without the exaction of duties. 

The other mode, the abolition of the ports of entry of the state, would also 
have its difficulties. The Constitution provides that " no preference shall be 
given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over 
those of another ; nor shall vessels bound to or from one state be obliged to 
enter, clear, or pay duties in another :" provisions too clear to be eluded even 
by the force of construction. There wall be another difficulty. If seizures be 
made in port, or within the distance assigned by the laws of nations as the limits 
of a state, the trial must be in the state, with all the embarrassments of its courts 
and juries ; while beyond the ports and the distance to which I have referred, 
it would be difficult to point out any principle by which a foreign vessel, at 
least, could be seized, except as an incident to the right of blockade, and, of 
course, with all the difficulties belonging to that mode of coercion. 

But there yet remains another, and, I doubt not, insuperable barrier, to be 
found in the judicial tribunals of the Union, against all the schemes of introdu- 
cing force, whether by land or water. Though I cannot concur in the opinion 
of those who regard the Supreme Court as the mediator appointed by the Con- 

SlltUUOn DeUVeen me Siaies aim mv vjcuciai viruvcjuiiiem , aim luuugii 1 isatUiOi. 

doubt there is a natural bias on its part towards the powers of the latter, yet I 
must greatly lower my -opinion of that high and important tribunal for intelli- 
gence, justice, and attachment to the Constitution, and particularly of that pure 
and upright magistrate who has so long, and with such distinguished honour to 
himself and the Union, presided over its deliberations, with all the weight that' 
belongs to an intellect of the first order, united with the most spotless integrity. 
to believe, for a moment, that an attempt so plainly and manifestly unconstitu-i 
tional as a resort to force woidd be in such a contest, could be sustained by the 
sanction of its authority. In whatever form force may be used, it must present 
questions for legal adjudication. If in the shape of blockade, the vessels seized | 
under it must be condemned, and thus woidd be presented the question of prize! 
or no prize, and, with it, the legality of the blockade ; if in that of a repeal of 
the acts establishing ports of entries in the state, the legality of the seizure 
must be determined, and that would bring up the question of the constitutional- 
ity of giving a preference to the ports of one state over those of another ; and 
so, if we pass from water to land, we wall find every attempt there to substitute 
force for lav/ must, in like manner, come under the review of the courts of the 
Union ; and the unconstitutionality v/ould be so glaring, that the executive and 
legislative departments, in their attempt to coerce, should either make an attempt 
so lawless and desperate, would be without the support of the judicial depart- 
ment. I will not pursue the question farther, as I hold it perfectly clear that, 
so long as a state retains its federal relations ; so long, in a word, as it continues 
a member of the Union, the contest between it and the General Go'VernmenJ; 
must be before the courts and juries ; and every attempt, in whatever form^ 
■whether by land or water, to substitute force as the arbiter in their place, must 
fail. The unconstitutionality of the attempt would be so open, and palpable, 
that it would be impossible to sustain it. 

There is, indeed, one view, and one only, of the contest in which fi:)rce could 
be employed ; but that view, as between the parties, would supersede the Con- 
stitution itself: that nullification is secession, and would, consequently, place 
the state, as to the others, in the relation of a foreign state. Such, clearly, 
would be the effect of secession : but it is equally clear that it would place the 
state beyond the pale of all her federal relations, and, thereby, all control on the 
part of the other states over her. She would stand to them simply in the rela- 
tion of a foreign state, divested of all federal connexion, and having none other 
between them but those belonging to the laws of nations. Standing thus to- 
wards one another, force might, indeed, be employed against a state, but it 
must be a belligerent force, preceded by a declaration of war, and earned on 
with all its formalities. Such would be the certain eflect of secession ; and if 
nullification be secession — if it be but a difl!erent name for the same thing — such, 
too, must be its effect ; which presents the highly important question. Are they, 
in fact, the same ? on the decision of which depends the question whether it 
be a peaceable and constitutional remedy, that may be exercised without termi- 
nating the federal relations of the state or not. 

I am aware that there is a considerable and respectable portion of our state, 
with a very large portion of the Union, constituting, in fact, a great majority, 
who are of the opinion that they are the same thing, differing only in name, 
and who, under that impression, denounce it as the most dangerous of all doc- 
trines ; and yet, so far from being the same, they are, unless, indeed, I am 
greatly deceived, not only perfectly distinguishable, but totally dissimilar in 
their nature, their object, and effect ; and that, so far from deserving the de- 
nunciation, so properly belonging to the act with which it is confounded, it is, 
in truth, the highest and most precious of all the rights of the states, and es- 
sential to preserve that very Union, for the supposed effect of destroying which 
it is so bitterly anathematized. 

First, they are wholly dissimilar in their nature. One has reference to the 
parties themselves, and the other to their agents. Secession is a withdrawal from 
the Union : a separation from partners, and, as far as depends on the member 
withdrawing, a dissolution of the partnership. It presupposes an association : 
a union of several states or individuals for a common object. Wherever these 
exist, secession may ; and where they do not, it cannot. Nullification, on the 
contrary, presupposes the relation of principal and agent : the one granting a 
power to be executed, the other, appointed by him with authority to execute it ; 
and is simply a declaration on the part of the principal, made in due form, that 
un act of the agent transcending his power is null and void. It is a right belong- 
ing exclusively to the relation between principal and agent, to be found ivher- 
ever it exists, and in all its forms, between several, or an association of princi- 
pals, and their joint agents, as well as between a single principal and his agent. 
The difference in their object is no less striking than in their nature. The 
object of secession is to free the withdrawing member from the obligation of 
the association or union, and is applicable to cases where the object of the 
association or union has failed, either by an abuse of power on the part of its 
members, or other causes. Its direct and iminediate object, as it concerns the with, 
drawino- member, is the dissolution of the association or union, as far as it is con- 
cerned. On the contrary, the object of nullification is to confine the agent with- 
in the limits of his powers, by arresting his acts transcending them, iiot with the 
view of destroying the delegated or trust power, but to preserve it, by compelling 
the agent to fulfil the object for v:hich the agency or trust was created ; and is ap. 
plicable only to cases where the trust or delegated powers are transcended on the 
])art of the agent. Without the power of secession, an association or union, 
formed for the common good of all the members, might prove ruinous to some, 
by the abuse of power on the part of the others ; and without nullification the 
agent might, under colour of construction, assume a power never intended to 
be delegated, or to convert those delegated to objects never intended to be com- 
prehended in the trust, to the ruin of the principal, or, in case of a joint agency, 
to the ruin of some of the principals. Each has, thus, its appropriate object, 
but objects in their nature very dissimilar ; so much so, that, in case of an asso- 
ciation or union, where the povvers are delegated to be executed by an agent, 
the abuse of power, on the part of the agent, to the injury of one or more of the 
members, would not justify secession on their part. The rightful remedy in 
that case would be nullification. There w^ould be neither right nor pretext to 
secede : not right, because secession is applicable only to the acts of the mem- 
bers of the association or union, and not to the act of the agent ; nor pretext, 
because there is another, and equally efiicient remedy, short of the dissolution 
of the association or union, which can only be justified by necessity. Nullifi- 
cation may, indeed, be succeeded by secession. In the case stated, should the 
other members undertake to grant the power nullified, and should the nature of 
the power be such as to defeat the object of the association or union, at least as 
far as the member nullifying is concerned, it would then become an abuse of 
power on the part of the principals, and thus present a case where secession 
would apply ; but in no other could it be justified, except it be for a failure of 
the association or union to effect the object for which it was created, independ- 
ent of any abuse of power. 

It now remains to show that their effect is as dissimilar as their nature or 

Nullification leaves the members of the association or union in the condi- 
tion it found them — subject to all its burdens, and entitled to all its advantages, 
comprehending the member, nullifying as well as the others — its object being, 
not to destroy, but to preserve, as has been stated. It simply arrests the act 
of the agent, as far as the principal is concerned, leaving in every other respect 

the operation of the joint concern as before ; secession, on the contrary, destroys, 
as far as the withdrawing member is concerned, the association or union, and 
restores him to the relation he occupied towards the other members before the 
existence of the association or union. He loses the benefit, but is released 
from the burden and control, and can no longer be dealt with, by his former as- 
sociates, as one of its members. 

Such are clearly the differences between them — differences so marked, that, 
instead of being identical, as supposed, they form a contrast in all the aspects 
in which they can be regarded. The application of these remarks to the polit- 
ical association or Union of these twenty-four states and the General Govern- 
ment, their joint agent, is too obvious, after what has been already said, to re- 
quire any additional illustration, and I will dismiss this part of the subject with 
a single additional remark. 

There are many who acknowledge the right of a state to secede, but deny 
its right to nullify ; and yet, it seems impossible to admit the one without ad- 
mitting the other. They both presuppose the same structure of the govern- 
ment, that it is a Union of the states, as forming political communities, the 
same right on the part of the states, as members of the Union, to determine for 
their citizens the extent of the powers delegated and those reserved, and, of 
course, to decide whether the Constitution has or has not been violated. The 
simple difference, then, between those who admit secession and deny nullifica- 
tion, and those who admit both, is, that one acknowledges that the declara- 
tion of a state pronouncing that the Constitution has been violated, and is, there- 
fore, null and void, would be obligatory on her citizens, and would arrest all 
the acts of the government within the limits of the state ; while they deny that 
a similar declaration, made by the same authority, and in the same manner, that 
an act of the government has transcended its powers, and that it is, therefore, 
null and void, would have any obligation ; while the other acknowledges the 
obligation in both cases. The one admits that the declaration of a state assent- 
ing to the Constitution bound her citizens, and that her declaration can unbind 
them ; but denies that a similar declaration, as to the extent she has, in fact, 
bound them, has any obligatory force on them ; Avhile the other gives equal 
force to the declaration in the several cases. The one denies the obligation, 
where the object is to jrreserve the Union in the only way it can he, by confining^ 
the government, formed to execute the trust powers, strictly within their 
limits, and to the objects for which they were delegated, though they give full 
force where the object is to destroy the Union itself; while the other, in giving^ 
equal weight to both, prefers the one because it preserves, and rejects the other be- 
cause it destroys ; and yet the former is the Union, and the latter the disunion 
■party ! And all this strange distinction originates, as far as I can judge, in 
attributing to nullification what belongs exclusively to secession. The" diffi- 
culty as to the former, it seems, is, that a state cannot be in and out of the 
Union at the same time. 

This is, indeed, true, if applied to secession— the throwing off the authority 
of the Union itself To nullify the Constitution, if I may be pardoned the sole- 
cism, would, indeed, be tantamount to disunion ; and, as applied to such an 
act, it would be true that a state could not be in and out of the Union at the 
same time ; but the act would be secession. 

But to apply it to nullification, properly understood, the object of which, in- 
stead of resisting or diminishing the powers of the Union, is to preserve them 
as they are, neither increased nor diminished, and thereby the Union itself 
(for the Union may be as effectually destroyed by increasing as by diminish- 
ing its powers— by consolidation, as by disunion itself), would be, I would say, 
had I not great respect for many who do thus apply it, egregious trifling with a 
grave and deeply-important constitutional subject. 

I might here finish the task which your request imposed, having, I trust, de* 

her reserved powers against the encroachments of the General Government ; 
and 1 may add that the right is, in its nature, peaceable, consistent with the 
federal relations of the state, and perfectly efficient, whether contested before 
the courts, or attempted to be resisted by force. But there is another aspect of 
the subject not yet touched, without adverting to which, it is impossible to un- 
derstand the full eflects of nullification, or the real character of our political in- 
stitutions : I allude to the power which the states, as a confederated body, have 
acquired directly over each other, and on which I will now proceed to make 
some remarks, though, I fear, at the hazard of fatiguing you. 

Previous to the adoption of the present Constitution, no power could be ex- 
ercised over any state by any other, or all of the states, without its own con- 
sent ; and we, accordingly, find that the old confederation and the present Con- 
stitution were both submitted for ratification to each of the states, and that 
each ratified for itself, and was bound only in consequence of its own partic- 
ular ratification, as has been already stated. The present Constitution has made, 
in this particular, a most important modification in their condition. I allude to 
the provision which gives validity to amendments of the Constitution when 
ratified by three fourths of the states — a provision which has not attracted as 
much attention as its importance deserves. Without it, no change could have 
been made in the Constitution, unless with the unanimous consent of all the 
states, in like manner as it was adopted. This provision, then, contains a high- 
ly-important concession by each to all of the states, of a portion of the original 
and inherent right of self-government, possessed previously by each separately, 
in favour of their general confederated powers, giving thereby increased energy 
to the states in their united capacity, and weakening them in the same degree 
in their separate. Its object was to facilitate and strengthen the action of the 
amending, or (to speak a little more appropriately, as it regards the point under 
consideration) the repairing power. It was foreseen that experience would, 
probably, disclose errors in the Constitution itself ; that time would make great 
changes in the condition of the country, which would require corresponding 
changes in the Constitution ; that the irregular and conflicting movements of the 
bodies composing so complex a system might cause derangements requiring 
correction ; and that, to require the unanimous consent of all the states to meet 
these various contingencies, would be placing the whole too much under the 
control of the parts : to remedy which, this great additional power was given to 
the amending or repairing power — this vis medicatrix of the system. 

To understand correctly the nature of this concession, we must not confound 
it with the delegated powers conferred on the General Government, and to be 
exercised by it as the joint agent of the states. They are essentially different. 
The former is, in fact, but a modification of the original sovereign power re- 
siding in the people of the several states — of the creating or Constitution-making 
power itself, intended, as stated, to facilitate and strengthen its action, and not 
change its character. Though modified, it is not delegated. It still resides in the 
states, and is still to be exercised by them, and not by the government. 

I propose next to consider this important modification of the sovereign pow- 
ers of the states, in connexion with the right of nullification. 

It is acknowledged on all sides that the duration and stability of our system 
depend on maintaining the equilihriiun between the states and the General 
Government — the reserved and delegated powers. We know that the Conven- 
tion which formed the Constitution, and the various state conventions which 
adopted it, as far as we are informed of their proceedmgs, felt the deepest soli- 
citude on this point. They saw and felt there would be an incessant conflict 
between them, which would menace the existence of the system itself, unless 
properly guarded. The contest between the states and General Government 
—the reserved and delegated rights — will, in truth, be a conflict between ths 


great predominant interests of the Union on one side, controlling and directing 
the movements of the government, and seeking to enlarge the delegated pow- 
ers, and thereby advance their power and prosperity ; and, on the other, the 
minor interests rallying on the reserved powers, as the only means of protect- 
ing themselves against the encroachment and oppression of the other. In such 
a contest, wdthoiU the most effectual check, the stronger will absorb the weak- 
er interests ; while, on the other hand, without an adequate provision of some 
description or other, the efforts of the Aveaker to guard against the encroach- 
ments and oppression of the stronger might permanently derange the system. 

On the side of the reserved powers, no check more effectual can be found or 
desired than nullification, or the right of arresting, within the limits of a state, 
the exercise, by the General Government, of any powers but the delegated— a 
ritdit which, if the states be true to themselves and faithful to the Constitution, 
Avfll ever prove, on the side of the reserved powers, an effectual protection to 

Nor is the check on the side of the delegated less perfect. Though less 
strong, it is ample to guard against encroachments ; and is as strong as the na- 
ture of the system would bear, as will appear in the sequal. It is to be found 
in the amending power. Without the modification which it contains of the 
rights of self-government on the part of the states, as already explained, the 
consent of each state would have been requisite to any additional grant of power, 
or other amendment of the Constitution. While, then, nullification would ena- 
ble a state to arrest the exercise of a power not delegated, the right of self-gov- 
ernment, if unmodified, would enable her to prevent the grant of a power not 
delegated ; and thus her conception of what power ought to be granted would 
be as conclusive against the co-states, as her construction of the powers grant- 
ed is against the General Government. In that case, the danger would be on 
the side of the states or reserved powers. The amending power, in effect, 
prevents this danger. In virtue of the provisions which it contains, the re- 
sistance of a state to a power cannot finally prevail, unless she be sustain- 
ed by one fourth of the co-states ; and in the same degree that her resistance 
is weakened, the power of the General Government, or the side of the delega- 
ted powers, is strengthened. It is true that the right of a state to arrest an un- 
constitutional act is of itself complete against the government ; but it is equally 
so that the controversy may, in effect, be terminated against her by a grant of 
the contested powers by three fourths of the states. It is thus by this simple, 
and, apparently, incidental contrivance, that the right of a state to nullify an uncon- 
stitutional act, so essential to the protection of the reserved rights, but which, 
unchecked, might too much debilitate the government, is counterpoised : not 
by weakening the energy of a state in her direct resistance to the encroach- 
ment of the government, or by giving to the latter a direct control over the 
states, as proposed in the Convention, but in a manner infinitely more safe, and, 
if I may be permuted so to express myself, scientific, by strengthening the 
amending or repairing power — the power of correcting all abuses or derange- 
ments, by whatever cause, or from whatever quarter. 

To sum all in a few words. The General Government has the right, in the 
first instance, of construing its own powers, which, if final and conclusive, as 
is supposed by many, would have placed the reserved powers at the mercy of 
the delegated, and thus destroy the equilibrium of the system. Against that, a 
state has the right of nullification. This right, on the part of the stale, if not 
counterpoised, might tend too strongly to weaken the General Government and 
derange the system. To correct this, the amending or repairing power is 
strengthened. The former cannot be made too strong if the latter be propor- 
tionably so. The increase of the latter is, in effect, the decrease of the former. 
Give to a majority of the states the right of amendment, and the arresting power, 
on the part of the state, would, in fact, be annulled. The amending power and 

hands. The same majority that controlled the one would the other, and the power 
arrested, as not granted, would be immediately restored in the shape of a grant. 
This modification of the right of self-government, on the part of the states, is, in 
fact, the pivot of the system. By shifting its position as the preponderance is 
on the one side or the other, or, to drop the simile, by increasing or diminish- 
ing the energy of the repairing power, effected by diminishing or increasing 
the number of states necessary to amend the Constitution, the equilibrium be- 
tween the reserved and the delegated rights may be preserved or destroyed at 

I am aware it is objected that, according to this view, one fourth of the 
states may, in reality, change the Constitution, and thus take away powers 
which have been imanimously granted by all the states. The objection is more 
specious than solid. The right of a state is not to resume delegated powers, 
but to prevent the reserved from being assumed by the government. It is, how- 
ever, certain the right may be abused, and, thereby, powers be resumed which 
were, in fact, delegated ; and it is also true, if sustained by one fourth of the co- 
states, such resumption may be successfully and permanently made by the 
state. This is the danger, and the utmost extent of the danger from the side of 
the reserved powers. It would, I acknowledge, be desirable to avoid or 
lessen it ; but neither can be effected without increasing a greater and opposing 

If the right be denied to the state to defend her reserved powers, for fear she 
might resume the delegated, that denial would, in effect, yield to the General 
Government the power, under the colour of construction, to assume at pleasure 
all the reserved powers. It is, in fact, a question between the danger of the 
states resuming the delegated powers on one side, and the General Government 
assuming the reserved on the other. Passing over the far greater probability 
of the latter than the former, which I endeavoured to illustrate in the address 
of last summer, I shall confine my remarks to the striking difference between 
them, viewed in connexion with the genius and theory of our government. 

The right of a state originally to complete self-government is a fundamental 
principle in our system, in virtue of which the grant of power required the con- 
sent of all the stales, while to withhold power the dissent of a single state toas suf- 
ficient. It is true, that this original and absolute power of self-government has 
been modified by the Constitution, as already stated, so that three fourths of the 
states may now grant power ; and, consequently, it requires more than one fourth 
to withhold. The boundary between the reserved and the delegated powers 
marks the limits of the Union. The states are united to the extent of the latter, 
and separated beyond that limit. It is, then, clear that it was not intended that 
the states should be more united than the will of one fourth of them, or, rather, 
one more than a fourth, would permit. It is worthy of remark, that it was pro- 
posed in the Convention to increase the confederative power, as it may be call- 
ed, by vesting two thirds of the states with the right of amendment, so as to 
require more than a third, instead of a fourth, to withhold power. The propo- 
sition was rejected, and three fourths unanimously adopted. It is, then, more i 
hostile to the nature and genius of our system to assume powers not delegated, 
than to resume those that are ; and less hostile that a state, sustained hy one fourth 
of her co-states, should j^f event the exercise of power really intended to be granted, 
than that the General Government should assume the exercise of powers not in- 
tended to he delegated. In the latter case, the usurpation of power would be 
against the fundamental principle of our system, the original right of the states ' 
to self-government ; while in the former, if it be usurpation at all, it would be, 
if so bold an expression may be used, a usurpation in the spirit of the Consti- 
tution itself — the spirit ordaining that the utmost extent of our Union should be 
limited by the will of any number of states exceeding a fourth, and that most 

interest, with so vast a territory, to be filled, in a short time, with almost count- 
less millions — a country of which the parts will equal empires, a union more 
intimate than that ordained in the Constitution, and so intimate, of course, that it 
might be permanently hostile to the feelings of more than a fourth of the states, 
instead of strengthening, would have exposed the system to certain destruction. 
There is a deep and profound philosophy, which he who best knows our nature 
will the most highly appreciate, that would make the intensity of the Union, if 
I mav so express myself, inversely to the extent of territory and the population 
of a countrv, and the diversity of its interests, geographical and political ; and 
which would hold in deeper dread the assumption of reserved rights by the 
agent appointed to execute the delegated, than the resumption of the delegated 
by the authority which granted the powers and ordained the agent to adminis- 
ter them. There appears, indeed, to be a great and prevailing principle that 
tends to place the delegated power in opposition to the delegating — the created 
to the creating power — reaching far beyond man and his works, up to the uni- 
versal source of all power. The earliest pages of Sacred History record the re- 
bellion of the archangels against the high authority of Heaven itself, and ancient 
mythology, the Avar of the Titans against Jupiter, which, according to its nar- 
rative, menaced the universe with destruction. This all-pervading principle is 
at work in our system — the created warring against the creating power; and 
unless the government be bolted and chained down with links of adamant by the 
hand of the states which created it, the creature will usurp the place of the 
creator, and universal political idolatry overspread the land. 

If the views presented be correct, it follows that, on the interposition of a 
state in favour of the reserved rights, it would be the duty of the General Gov- 
ernment to abandon the contested power, or to apply to the states themselves, 
the source of all political authority, for the power, in one of the two modes pre- 
scribed in the Constitution. If the case be a simple one, embracing a single 
power, and that in its nature easily adjusted, the more ready and appropriate 
mode would be an amendment in the ordinary form, on a proposition of two 
thirds of both houses of Congress, to be ratified by three fourths of the states ; 
but, on the contrary, should the derangement of the system be great, embracing 
many points difficult to adjust, the states ought to be convened in a general Con- 
vention, the most august of all assemblies, representing the united sovereignty 
of the confederated states, and having power and authority to correct every er- 
ror, and to repair every dilapidation or injury, whether caused by time or acci- 
dent, or the conflicting movements of the bodies which compose the system. 
With institutions every way so fortunate, possessed of means so well calculated 
to prevent disorders, and so admirable to correct them when they cannot be pre- 
vented, he who would prescribe for our political disease disunion on the one 
side, or coercion of a state in the assertion of its rights on the other, loould de- 
serve, and will receive, the execrations of this and all future generations. 

I have now finished what I had to say on the subject of this communication, 
in its immediate connexion with the Constitution. In the discussion, I have 
advanced nothing but on the authority of the Constitution itself, or that of re- 
corded and unqucstionalile facts connected with the history of its origin and 
formation ; and have made no deduction but such as rested on principles which 
I believe to be unquestionable ; but it would be idle to expect, in the present state 
of the pul)lic mind, a favourable reception of the conclusions to which I have 
been carried. There are too many misconceptions to encounter, too many prej- 
udices to combat, and, above all, too great a weight of interest to resist. I do 
not propose to investigate these great impediments to the reception of the truth, 
though it would l)e an interesting subject of inquiry to trace them to their cause, 
and to measure the force of their impeding power; but there is one among 
them of so marked a character, and wiiich operates so extensively, that I can- 

will be calculated to throw much light on what has already been said. 

Of all the impediments opposed to a just conception of the nature of our po- 
litical system, the impression that the right of a state to arrest an unconstitu- 
tional act of the General Government is inconsistent with the great and funda- 
mental principle of all free states — that a majority has the right to govern — is the 
greatest. Thus regarded, nullification is, without farther reflection, denounced 
as the most dangerous and monstrous of all political heresies, as, in truth, it 
would be, were the objection as well-founded as, in fact, it is destitute of all 
foundation, as I shall now proceed to show. 

Those who make the objection seem to suppose that the right of a majority 
to govern is a principle too simple to admit of any distinction ; and yet, if I do not 
mistake, it is susceptible of the most important distinction — entering deeply into 
the construction of our system, and, I may add, into that of all free states in 
proportion to the perfection of their institutions, and is essential to the very ex- 
istence of liberty. 

When, then, it is said that a majority has the right to govern, there are two 
modes of estimating the majority, to either of which the expression is applica- 
ble. The one, in which the whole community is regarded in the aggregate, 
and the majority is estimated in reference to the entire mass. This may be 
called the majority of the whole, or the absolute majority. The other, in which 
it is regarded in reference to its different political interests, whether composed 
of different classes, of different communities, formed into one general confeder- 
ated community, and in which the majority is estimated, not in reference to the 
•whole, but to each class or community of which it is composed, the assent of 
each taken separately, and the concurrence of all constituting the majority. 
A majority thus estimated may be called the concurring majority. 

When it is objected to nullification, that it is opposed to the principle that a 
majority ought to govern, he who makes the objection must mean the absolute, 
as distinguished from the concurring. It is only in the sense of the former the 
objection can be applied. In that of the concurring, it would be absurd, as the 
concurring assent of all the parts (with us, all the states) is of the very essence 
of such majority. Again, it is manifest, that in the sense it would be good 
against nullification, it would be equally so against the Constitution itself; for, 
in whatever light that instrument may be regarded, it is clearly not the work 
of the absolute, but of the concurring majority. It was formed and ratified by 
the concurring assent of all the states, and not by the majority of the whole ta- 
ken in the aggregate, as has been already stated. Thus, the acknowledged 
right of each state in reference to the Constitution, is unquestionably the same 
right which nvdlification attributes to each in reference to the unconslitiitional 
acts of the government ; and, if the latter be opposed to the right of a majority 
to govern, the former is equally so. I go farther. The objection might, with 
equal truth, be applied to all free states that have ever existed : I mean states 
deserving the name, and excluding, of course, those which, after a factious and 
anarchical existence of a few years, have sunk under the yoke of tyranny or f 
the dominion of some foreign power. There is not, with this exception, a sin- ' 
gle free state whose institutions were not based on the principle of the con- 
curring majority : not one in which the community was not regarded in refer- 
ence to its different political interests, and which did not, in some form or other, 
take the assent of each in the operation of the government. 

In support of this assertion, I might begin with our own government and go 
back to that of Sparta, and show conclusively that there is not one on the list 
Avhose institutions were not organized on the principle of the concurring ma- 
jority, and in the operation of which the sense of each great interest was not 
separately consulted. The various devices which have been contrived for this 
purpose, with the peculiar operation of each, would be a curious and highly im- 


The principle of the concurring majority has sometimes been incorporated 
in the reguhir and ordinary operation of the government, each interest having a 
distinct organization, and a combination of the whole forming the government ; 
but still requiring the consent of each, within its proper sphere, to give validity 
to the measures of government. Of this modification the British and Spartan 
govenunents are by far the most memorable and perfect examples. In others, 
the right of acting — of making and executing the laws — was vested in one in- 
terest, and the right of arresting or nullifying in another. Of this description, 
the Roman government is much the most striking instance. In others, the 
right o( originating or introducing projects of laws was in one, and of enacting 
them in another : as at Athens before its government degenerated, where the 
Senate proposed, and the General Assembly of the people enacted, laws. 

These devices were all resorted to with the intention of consulting the separ- 
ate interests of which the several communities were composed, and against 
all of which the objection to nullification, that it is opposed to the will of a ma- 
jority, could be raised with equal force — as strongly, and I may say much more 
so, against the unlimited, unqualified, and uncontrollable veto of a single tribune 
out of ten at Rome on all laws and the execution of laws, as against the same 
right of a sovereign state (one of the twenty-four tribunes of this Union), limit- 
ed, as the right is, to the unconstitutional acts of the General Government, and 
liable, as in effect it is, to be controlled by three fourths of the co-states ; and 
yet the Roman Republic, and the other states to which I have referred, are the 
renowned among free states, whose examples have difl'used the spirit of liberty 
over the world, and which, if struck from the list, would leave behind but little 
to be admired or imitated. There, indeed, would remain one class deserving 
from us particular notice, as ours belongs to it — I mean confederacies ; but, as 
a class, heretofore far less distinguished for power and prosperity than those 
already alluded to ; though I trust, with the improvements we have made, des- 
tined to be placed at the very head of the illustrious list of states which have 
blessed the world with examples of well-regulated liberty ; and which stand 
as so many oases in the midst of the desert of oppression and despotism, which 
occupies so vast a space in the chart of governments. That such will be the 
great and glorious destiny of our system, I feel assured, provided we do not 
permit our government to degenerate into the worst of all possible forms, a con- 
solidated government, swayed by the will of an absolute majority. But to pro- 

Viewing a confederated community as composed of as many distinct politi- 
cal interests as there are states, and as requiring the consent of each to its meas- 
ures, no government can be conceived in which the sense of the whole com- 
munity can be more perfectly taken, and all its interests be more fully represent- 
ed and protected. But, with this great advantage, united with the means of 
the most just and perfect local administration through the agency of the states, 
and combined with the capacity of embracing within its limits the greatest ex- 
tent of territory and variety of interests, it is liable to one almost fatal objection, 
the tardiness and feebleness of its movements — a defect difficult to be reme- 
died, and when not, so great as to render a form of government, in olher re- 
spects so admirable, almost worthless. To overcome this difficulty was the 
great desideratum in political science, and the most difficult problem'within its 
circle. To us belongs the glory of its solution, if, indeed, our experiment (for 
such it must yet be called) shall prove that we have overcome it, as I sincerely 
believe and hope it will, on account of our own, as well as the liberty and happi- 
ness of our race. 

Our first experiment in government was on the old form of a simple confed- 
eracy, unmodified, and extending the principle of the concmring majority alike 

for the first time in a confederation, the absolute with the concurring majority ; 
and thus uniting the justice of the one with the energy of the other. 

The new government was reared on the foundation of the old, strengthened, 
but not changed. It stands on the same solid basis of the concurring majority, 
perfected by the sanction of the people of the states directly given, and not in- 
directly through the state governments, as their representatives, as in the old 
confederation. With that difference, the authority which made the two Consti- 
tutions — which granted their powers, and ordained and organized their respect- 
ive governments to execute them — is the same. But, in passing from the Con- 
stitution to the government (the law-making and the law-administering powers), 
the difference between the two becomes radical and essential. There, in the 
present, the concurring majority is dropped, and the absolute substituted. In 
determining, then, what powers ought to be granted, and how the government 
appointed for their execution ought to be organized, the separate and concur- 
ring voice of the states was required — the union being regarded, for this pur- 
pose, in reference to its various and distinct interests ; but in the execution of 
these powers (delegated only because all the states had a common interest in 
their exercise), the union is no longer regarded in reference to its parts, but as 
forming, to the extent of its delegated powers, one great community, to be gov- 
erned by a common will, just as the states are in reference to their separate in- 
terests, and by a government organized on principles similar to theirs. By this 
simple but fortunate arrangement, we have ingrafted the absolute on the con- 
curring majority, thereby giving to the administration of the powers of the gov- 
ernment, where they were required, all the energy and promptness belonging 
to the former, while we have retained in the power granting and organizing 
authority (if I may so express myself) the principle of the concurring majori- 
ty, and with it that justice, moderation, and full and perfect representation of 
all the interests of the community which belong exclusively to it. 

Such is the solidity and beauty of our admirable system, but which, it is per- 
fectly obvious, can only be preserved by maintaining the ascendency of the 


OVER THE ABSOLUTE MAJORITY. Nor is it Icss clear that this can only be ef- 
fected by the right of a state to annul the unconstitutional acts of the govern- 
jnent — a right confounded with the idea of a minority governing a majority, but 
which, so far from being the case, is indispensable to prevent the more ener- 
getic but imperfect majority which controls the movements of the government, 
from usurping the place of that more perfect and just majority which formed 
the Consthution and ordained government to execute its powers. 

Nor need we apprehend that this check, as powerful as it is, will prove ex- 
cessive. The distinction between the Constitution and the law making pow- 
ers, so strongly marked in our institutions, may yet be considered as a new and 
untried experiment. It can scarcely be said to have existed at all before our 
system oi government. We have yet much to learn as to its practical opera- 
tion ; and, among other things, if I do not mistake, we are far from realizing 
the many and great difficulties of holding the latter subordinate to the former, 
and without which, it is obvious, the entire scheme of constitutional govern- 
ment, at least in our sense, must prove abortive. Short as has been our expe- 
rience, some of these, of a very formidable character, have begun to disclose 
themselves, particularly between the Constitution and the government of the 
Union. The two powers there represent very different interests : the one, 
that of all the states taken separately ; and the other, that of a majority of the 
states as forming a confederated community. Each acting under the impulse 
of these respective and very different interests, must necessarily strongly tend 
to come into collision, and, in the conflict, the advantage will be found almost 

marks will be sufficient to illustrate these positions. 

The Constitution, while it grants powers to the government, at the same time im- 
poses restrictions on its action, with the intention of confining it within a limited 
ranofe of powers, and of the means of executing them. The object.of the powers is 
to protect the rights and promote the interests of all ; and of the restrictions, to pre- 
vent the majority, or the dominant interests of the government, from perverting 
powers intended for the common good into the means of oppressing the minor inter- 
ests of the community. Thus circumstanced, the dominant interest in possession 
of the powers of the government, and the minor interest on whom they are exer- 
cised, must regard these restrictions in a very different light : the latter, as a 
protection, and the former, as a restraint, and, of course, accompanied with all 
the impatient feelings with which restrictions on cupidity and ambition are 
ever regarded by those unruly passions. Under their influence, the Constitu- 
tion will be viewed by the majority, not as the source of their authority, as it 
should be, but as shackles on their power. To them it will have no value as 
the means of protection. As a majority they require none. Their number and 
strength, and not the Constitution, are their protection ; and, of course, if I may 
so speak, their instinct will be to weaken and destroy the restrictions, in order 
to enlarge the powers. He must have a very imperfect knowledge of the hu- 
man heart who does not see, in this state of things, an incessant conflict between 
the government or the law-making power and the Constitution-making power. 
Nor is it less certain that, in the contest, the advantage will be exclusively with 
the former. 

The law-making poAver is organized and in constant action, having the con- 
trol of the honours and emoluments of the country, and armed with the power 
to punish and reward ; the other, on the contrary, is unorganized, lying dormant 
in the great inert mass of the community, till called into action on extraordinary 
occasions and at distant intervals ; and then bestowing no honours, exercising 
no patronage, having neither the faculty to reward nor to punish, but endowed 
simply with the attribute to grant powers and ordain the authority to execute 
them. The result is inevitable. With so strong an instinct on the part of the 
government to throw off the restrictions of the Constitution and to enlarge its 
powers, and with such powerful faculties to gratify this instinctive impidse, the 
law-making must necessarily encroach on the Constitution-making power, un- 
less restrained by the most efficient check — at least as strong as that for which 
we contend. It is worthy of remark, that, all other circumstances being equal, 
the more dissimUar the interests represented by the two, the more powerful will 
be this tendency to encroach ; and it is from this, among other causes, that it is 
so much stronger between the government and the Constitution-making powers 
of the Union, where the interests are so very dissimilar, than between the two 
in the several states. 

That the framers of the Constitution were aware of the danger which I have 
described, we have conclusive proof in the provision to which I have so fre- 
quently alluded — I mean that which provides for amendments to the Constitu- 

I have already remarked on that portion of this provision which, with the 
view of strengthening the confederated power, conceded to three fourths of the 
states a right to amend, which otherwise could only have been exercised by 
the unanimous consent of all. It is remarkable, that, while this provision thus 
strengthened the amending power as it regards the states, it imposed imped- 
iments on it as far as the government was concerned. The power of acting, 
as a general rule, is invested in the majority of Congress ; but, instead of per- 
mitting a majority to propose amendments, the provision requires for that pur- 
pose two thirds of both houses, clearly with a view of interposing a barrier 
against this strong instinctive appetite of the government for the acquisition of 

the passage to the direct acquisition, had the wide door of construction been 
left open to its indirect ; and hence, in the same spirit in which two thirds of 
both houses were required to propose amendments, the Convention that framed 
the Constitution rejected the many propositions which were moved in the body 
with the intention of divesting the states of the right of interposing, and, there- 
by, of the only effectual means of preventing the enlargement of the powers of 
the government by construction. 

It is thus that the Constitution-making power has fortified itself against the 
law-making ; and that so effectually, that, however strong the disposition and 
capacit}^ of the latter to encroach, the means of resistance on the part of the 
former are not less powerful. If, indeed, encroachments have been made, the 
fault is not in the system, but in the inattention and neglect of those whose in- 
terest and duty it was to interpose the ample means of protection afforded by 
the Constitution. 

To sum up in few words,- in conclusion, what appears to me to be the entire 
philosophy of government, in reference to the subject of this communication. 

Two powers are necessary to the existence and preservation of free states : 
a power on the part of the ruled to prevent rulers from abusing their authority, 
by compelling them to be faithful to their constituents, and which is efiected 
through the right of suffrage ; and a power to compel the parts of society 

EST OF EACH OTHER, which cau only be effected, whatever may be the device 
for the purpose, by requiring the concurring assent of all the great and distinct 
interests of the community to the measures of the government. This result is 
the sum-total of all the contrivances adopted by free states to preserve their 
liberty, by preventing the conflicts between the several classes or parts of 
the community. Both powers are indispensable. The one as much so as the 
other. The rulers are not more disposed to encroach on the ruled than the dif- 
ferent interests of the community on one another ; nor would they more cer- 
tainly convert their power from the just and legitimate objects for which gov. 
ernments are instituted into an instrument of aggrandizement, at the expense 
of the ruled, unless made responsible to their constituents, than would the 
stronger interests theirs, at the expense of the weaker, unless compelled to con- 
sult them in the measures of the government, by taking their separate and con- 
curring assent. The same cause operates in both cases. The constitution of 
our nature, which would impel the rulers to oppress the ruled, unless prevented, 
would in like manner, and with equal force, impel the stronger to oppress the 
weaker interest. To vest the right of government in the absolute majority, 
would be, in fact, but to imbody the will op the stronger interest in 

TION AND CUPIDITY, just as would be the case between rulers and ruled, if the 
right to govern was vested exclusively in the hands of the former. They 
would both be, in reality, absolute and despotic governments : the one as much 
so as the other. 

They would both become mere instruments of cupidity and ambition in the 
hands of those who wielded them. No one doubts that such would be the case 
were the government placed under the control of irresponsible lulers ; but, un- 
fortunately for the cause of liberty, it is not seen with equal clearness that it 
must as necessarily be so when controlled by an absolute majority ; and yet, 
the former is not more certain than the latter. To this we may attribute the 
mistake so often and so fatally repeated, that to expel a despot is to estab- 
lish LIBERTY — a mistake to which we may trace the failure of many noble 
and generous efforts in favour of liberty. The error consists in considering 
communities as formed of interests strictly identical throughout, instead of be- 


ing composeu, as mvy m i^a.i,.^j "*-, "- — j , i • 

individuals. The interests of no two persons are the same, regardea m refer- 
ence to each other, though they may be, viewed in relation to the rest of the 
conuimnity. It is this diversity which the several portions of the community 
bear to each other, in reference to the whole, that renders the principle of the 
concurring majority necessary to preserve liberty. Place the power in the 
hands of the absolute majority, and the strongest of these would certainly per- 
vert the o-overnment from the object for which it was instituted, the equal pro- 
tection of the rights of all, into an instrument of advancing itself at the expense 
of the rest of the community. Against this abuse of power no remedy can be 
devised but that of the concurring majority. Neither the right of suffrage nor 
public opinion can possibly check it. They, in fact, but tend to aggravate the 
disease. It seems really surprising that truths so obvious should be so imper- 
fectly understood. There would appear, indeed, a feebleness in our intellect- 
ual powers on political subjects when directed to large masses. We readily 
see why a single individual, as a ruler, would, if not prevented, oppress the 
rest of the community ; but are at a loss to understand why seven millions 
would, if not also prevented, oppress six millions, as if the relative numbers on 
either 'side could in the least degree vary the principle. 

In stating what I have, I have but repeated the experience of ages, compre- 
hending alffree governments preceding ours, and ours as far as it has progress- 
ed. tIic practical operation of ours has been substantially on the principle 
of the absolute majority. We have acted, with some exceptions, as if the Gen- 
eral Government had the right to interpret its own powers, without limitation or 
check. : and though many circumstances have favoured us, and greatly impeded 
the natural progress of events, under such an operation of the system, yet we 
already see, in whatever direction we turn our eyes, the growing symptoms of 
disorder and decay — the growth of faction, cupidity, and corruption ; and the 
decay of patriotism, integrity, and disinterestedness. In the midst of youth, we 
see the flushed cheek, and the short and feverish breath, that mark the approach 
of the fatal hour ; and come it will, unless there be a speedy and radical change 
— a return to the great conservative principle which brought the Republican 
party into authority, but which, with the possession of power and prosperity, it 
has long ceased to remember. 

I have now finished the task which your request imposed. If I have been 
so fortunate as to add to your fund a single new illustration of this great con- 
servative principle of our government, or to furnish an additional argument cal- 
culated to sustain the state in her noble and patriotic struggle to revive and 
maintain it, and in which you have acted a part long to be remembered by the 
friends of freedom, I shall feel amply compensated for the time occupied in so 
long a commimication. I believe the cause to be the cause of truth and justice, 
of imion, liberty, and the Constitution, before which the ordinary party strug- 
gles of the day sink into perfect insignificance ; and that it will be so regarded 
by the most distant posterity, I have not the slightest doubt. 

With great and sincere regard, 
^ I am yours, &c., &c., 

John C. Calhoun. 
His Excellency James Hamilton, Jun., 
Governor of South Carolina. 



Mr. President — I know not which is most objectionable, the provision of 
I the bill, or the temper in which its adoption has been urged. If the extraordi- 
' nary powers with which the bill proposes to clothe the executive, to the utter 
I prostration of the Constitution and the rights of the states, be calculated to im- 
press our minds with alarm at the rapid progress of despotism in our country ; 
the zeal with which every circumstance calculated to misrepresent or exago-er- 
ate the conduct of Carolina in the controversy, is seized on with a view to°ex- 
' cite hostility against her, but too plainly indicates the deep decay of that broth- 
erly feeling which once existed between these states, and to which we are 
indebted for our beautiful federal system, and by the continuance of which 
alone it can be preserved. It is not my intention to advert to all these mis- 
representations, but there are some so well calculated to mislead the mind as 
to the real character of the controversy, and hold up the state in a light so 
odious, that I do not feel myself justified in permitting them to pass unnoticed. 

Among them, one of the most prominent is the false statement that the ob- 
ject of South Carolina is to exempt herself from her share of the public burdens, 
while she participates in the advantages of the government. If the charge were 
true — if the state were capable of being actuated by such low and unworthy 
motives, mother as I consider her, I would not stand up on this floor to vindi- 
cate her conduct. Among her faults, and faults I will not deny she has, no one 
has ever yet charged her with that low and most sordid of vices — avarice. Her 
conduct, on all occasions, has been marked with the very opposite quality. 
From the commencement of the Revolution — from its first breaking out at Bos- 
ton till this hour, no state has been more profuse of its blood in the cause of 
the country, nor has any contributed so largely to the common treasury in 
proportion to wealth and population. She has in that proportion contributed 
more to the exports of the Union, on the exchange of which with the rest of 
the world the greater portion of the public burden has been levied, than any 
other state. No ; the controversy is not such as has been stated ; the state does 
not seek to participate in the advantages of the government without contributing 
her full share to the public treasury. Her object is far different. A deep con- 
stitutional question lies at the bottom of the controversy. The real question at 
issue is. Has the government a right to impose burdens on the capital and indus- 
try of one portion of the country, not with a view to revenue, but to benefit 
another 1 and I must be permitted to say that, after the long and deep agitation 
of this controversy, it is with surprise that I perceive so strong a disposition to 
misrepresent its real character. To correct the impression which those misrep- 
resentations are calculated to make, I will dwell on the point under consider- 
ation for a (ew moments longer. 

The Federal Government has, by an express provision of the Constitution, 
the right to lay duties on imports. The state has never denied or resisted this 
right, nor even thought of so doing. The government has, however, not been 
contented with exercising this power as she had a right to do, but has gone a 
step beyond it, by laying imposts, not for revenue, but for protection. This the 
state considers as an unconstitutional exercise of power — highly injurious and 
oppressive to her and the other staple states, and has, accordingly, met it with 
the most determined resistance. I do not intend to enter, at this time, into the 
argument as to the unconstitutionality of the protective system. It is not ne- 
cessary. It is sufficient that the power is nowhere granted ; and that, from the 
journals of the Convention which formed the Constitution, it would seem that 
it was refused. In support of the journals, I might cite the statement of Luther 

Martin, which has already been relerred to, to sno\y tnat tne i^onvention, so 
far from conferring the power on the Federal Government, left to the state the 
right to impose duties on imports, with the express view of enabling the sev- 
eral states to protect their own manufactures. Notwithstanding this, Congress 
has assumed, without any warrant from the Constitution, the right of exercising 
this most important power, and has so exercised it as to impose a ruinous bur- 
den on the labour and capital of the state, by which her resources arc exhaust- ' 

ed the enjoyments of her citizens curtailed — the means of education contracted 

— and all her interests essentially and injuriously affected. We have been 
sneeringly told that she is a small state ; that her population does not much ex- 
ceed half a million of souls ; and that more than one half are not of the Euro- 
pean race. The facts are so. I know she never can be a great state^ and 
that the only distinction to which she can aspire must be based on the mora! 
and intellectual acquirements of her sons. To the development of these much 
of her attention has been directed ; but this restrictive system, which has so un- 
justly exacted the proceeds of her labour, to be bestowed on other sections, has 
so impaired the resources of the state, that, if not speedily arrested, it will dry 
Dp the means of education, and with it deprive her of the only source through 
which she can aspire to distinction. 

There is another misstatement, as to the nature of the controversy, so fre- 
quently made in debate, and so well calculated to mislead, that I feel bound to 
notice it. It has been said that South Carolina claims the right to annul the 
Constitution and laws of the United States ; and to rebut this supposed claim, 
the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Rives) has gravely quoted the Constitution, 
to prove that the Constitution, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, are the 
supreme laws of the land — as if the state claimed the right to act contrary to 
this provision of the Constitution. Nothing can be more erroneous : her object 
is not to resist laws made in pursuance of the Constitxition, but those made 
■without its authority, and which encroach on her reserved powers. She claims 
not even the right of judging of the delegatea powers ; but of those that are re- 
served, and to resist the former, when they encroach upon the latter. I will 
pause to illustrate this important point. 

All must admit that there are delegated and reserved powers, and that the 
powers reserved are reserved to the states respectively. The powers, then, of 
the system are divided between the general and the state government ; and 
the point immediately under consideration is, whether a state has any right 
to judge as to the extent of its reserved powers, and to defend them against the 
encroachments of the General Government. Without going deeply into this 
point at this stage of the argument, or looking into the nature and origin of the 
government, there is a simple view of the subject which I consider as conclu- 
sive. The very idea of a divided power implies the right on the part of the 
state for which I contend. The expression is metaphorical Avhen applied to 
power. Every one readily understands that the division of matter consists in 
the separation of the parts. But in this sense it is not applicable to power. 
What, then, is meant by a division of power ? I cannot conceive of a division, 
without giWng an equal right to each to judge of the extent of the power allotted 
to each. Such right I hold to be essential to the existence of a division ; 
and that, to give to either party the conclusive right of jndging, not only of the 
share allotted to it, but of that allotted to the other, is to annul the division, and 
would confer the whole power on the party vested with such right. 

But it is contended that the Constitution has conferred on the Supreme Court 
the right of judging between the states and the General Government. Those 
who make this objection overlook, I conceive, an important provision of the 
Constitution. By turning to the 10th amended article, it will be seen that the 
reservation of power to the states is not only against the powers delegated to 
Congress, but against the United States themselves ; and extends, of course, as 

tide provides, that all powers not delegated to the United States, or prohibited 
by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. 
This presents the inquiry, What powers are delegated to the United States ? 
They may be classed under four divisions : first, those that are delegated by the 
states to each other, by virtue of which the Constitution may be altered or 
amended by three fourths of the states, when, without which, it would have re- 
quired the unanimous vote of all ; next, the powers conferred on Congress ; 
then those on the President ; and, finally, those on the judicial department — all 
of which are particularly enumerated in the parts of the Constitution which or- 
ganize the respective departments. The reservation of powers to the states is, 
as I have said, against the whole, and is as full against the judicial as it is 
against the executive and legislative departments of the government. It cannot 
be claimed for the one without claiming it for the whole, and without, in fact, 
annulling this important provision of the Constitution. 

Against this, as it appears to me, conclusive view of the subject, it has beea 
urged that this power is expressly conferred on the Supreme Court by that 
portion of the Constitution which provides that the judicial power shall extend 
to all cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution, the laws of the 
United States, and treaties made under their authority. I believe the assertion 
to be utterly destitute of any foundation. It obviously is the intention of the 
Constitution simply to make the judicial power commensurate with the law- 
making and treaty-making powers ; and to vest it with the right of applying the 
Constitution, the laws, and the treaties, to the cases which might arise under 
them ; and not to make it the judge of the Constitution, the laws, and the trea- 
ties themselves. In fact, the power of applying the laws to the facts of the 
case, and deciding upon such application, constitutes, in truth, the judicial pow- 
er. The distinction between such power, and that of judging of the laws, will 
be perfectly apparent when we advert to what is the acknowledged power of 
the court in reference to treaties or compacts between sovereigns. It is per- 
fectly established, that the courts have no right to judge of the violation of 
treaties ; and that, in reference to them, their power is limited to the right of 
judging simply of the violation of rights under them ; and that the right of 
judging of infractions belongs exclusively to the parties themselves, and not to 
the courts : of which we have an example in the French treaty, which was de- 
clared by Congress null and void, in consequence of its violation by the gov- 
ernment of France. Without such declaration, had a French citizen sued a 
citizen of this country under the treaty, the court could have taken no cogni- 
zance of its infraction ; nor, after such a declaration, would it have heard any 
argument or proof going to show that the treaty had not been violated. 

The declaration of itself is conclusive on the court. But it will be asked 
how the court obtained the powers to pronounce a law or treaty unconstitution- 
al, when they come in conflict with that instrument. I do not deny that it 
possesses the right, but I can by no means concede that it was derived from 
the Constitution. It had its origin in the necessity of the case. Where there 
are two or more rules established, one from a higher, the other from a lower 
authority, which may come into conflict in applying them to a particular case, the 
judge cannot avoid pronouncing in favour of the superior against the inferior. 
It is from this necessity, and this alone, that the power which is now set up to 
overrule the rights of the slates against an express provision of the Constitutiori 
was derived. It had no other origin. That I have traced it to its true source, 
will be manifest from the fact that it is a power which, so far from being con- 
I ferred exclusively on the Supreme Court, as is insisted, belongs to every 
court — inferior and superior — state and general — and even to foreign courts. 

But the senator from Delaware (Mr. Clayton) relies on the journals of the 
Convention to prove that it was the intention of that body to confer on the Su- 

preme i^ouri iiie ngui "i uc(,i 
General Government. I will not follow him through the journals, as I do not 
deem that to be necessary to refute his argument. It is sufficient for this pur- 
pose to state, that Mr. Rutledge reported a resolution, providing expressly that 
the United States and the states might be parties before the Supreme Court. 
If this proposition had been adopted, I would ask the senator whether this very 
controversy between the United States and South Carolina might not have been 
brou<^ht before the court ? I would also ask him whether it can be brought be- I 
fore the court as the Constitution now stands ? If he answers the former in the 
affirmative, and the latter in the negative, as he must, then it is clear, his elabo- 
rate art^ument to the contrary notwithstanding, that the report of Mr. Rutledge 
Avas not, in substance, adopted as he contended ; and that the journals, so far 
from supporting, are in direct opposition to the position which he attempts to 
maintain. I might push the argument much farther against the power of the 
court, but I do not deem it necessary, at least in this stage of the discussion. 
If the views which have already been presented be correct, and I do not see 
how they can be resisted, the conclusion is inevitable, that the reserved powers 
were reserved equally against every department of the government, and as 
strongly against the judicial as against the other departments, and, of course, 
were left under the exclusive will of the states. 

There still remains another misrepresentation of the conduct of the state 
which has been made with the view of exciting odium. I allude to the charge, 
that South Carolina supported the tariff of 1816, and is, therefore, responsible 
for the protective system. To determine the truth of this charge, it becomes 
necessary to ascertain the real character of that law — whether it was a tariff 
for revenue or for protection — which presents the inquiry, What was the corvdi- 
tion of the country at that period ? The late war with Great Britain had just 
terminated, which, with the restrictive system that preceded it, had diverted a 
large amount of capital and industry from commerce to manufactures, particu- 
larly to the cotton and woollen branches. There was a debt, at the same time, 
of one hundred and thirty millions of dollars hanging over the country, and the 
heavy war duties were still in existence. Under these circumstances, the ques- 
tion was presented, to what point the duties ought to be reduced. That ques- 
tion involved another — at what time the debt ought to be paid ; which was a 
question of policy involving in its consideration all the circumstances connected 
with the then condition of the country. Among the most prominent arguments 
in favour of an early discharge of the debt was, that the high duties which it 
would require to effect it would have, at the same time, the effect of sustaining 
the infant manufactures, which had been forced up under the circumstances to 
which I have adverted. This view of the subject had a decided influence in 
determining in favour of an early payment of the debt. The sinking fund was, 
accordingly, raised from seven to ten millions of dollars, with the provision to 
apply the surplus which might remain in the treasury as a contingent appro- 
priation to that fund ; and the duties were graduated to meet this increased 
expenditure. It was thus that, the policy and justice of protecting the large 
amount of capital and industry which had heen diverted by the measures of the 
government into new channels, as I have stated, was combined with the fiscal 
action of the government, and which, while it secured a prompt payment of the 
debt, prevented the immense losses to the manufacturers which would have fol- 
lowed a sudden and great reduction. Still, revenue was the main object, and 
protection but the incidental. The bill to reduce the duties was reported by 
the Committee of Ways and Means, and not of Manufactures, and it proposed 
a heavy reduction on the then existing rate of duties. But what of itself, with- 
out other evidence, was decisive as to the character of the bill, is the fact that 
it fixed a much higher rate of duties on the unprotected than on the protected 
articles. I will enumerate a few leading articles only : woollen and cotton 

objects of protection, were subject to a permanent duty of only 20 per cent. 
Iron, another leading article among the protected, had a protection of not more 
than 9 per cent, as fixed by the act, and of but fifteen as reported in the bill. 
These rates were all below the average duties as fixed in the act, including 
the protected, the unprotected, and even the free articles. I have entered into 
some calculation, in order to ascertain the average rate of duties under the act. 
There is some uncertainty in the data, but I feel assured that it is not less than 
thirty per cent, ad valorem : showing an excess of the average duties above that 
imposed on the protected articles enumerated of more than 10 per cent., and 
thus clearly establishing the character of the measure — that it was for revenue, 
and not protection. 

Looking back, even at this distant period, with all our experience, I perceive 
but two errors in the act : the one in reference to iron, and the other the mini- 
mum duty on coarse cottons. As to the former, I conceive that the bill, as re- 
ported, proposed a duty relatively too low, which was still farther reduced in 
its passage through Congress. The duty, at first, was fixed at seventy-five 
cents thehundred weight ; but, in the last stage of its passage, it was reduced, 
by a sort of caprice, occasioned by an unfortunate motion, to forty-five cents. 
This injustice was severely felt in Pennsylvania, the state, above all others, 
most productive of iron ; and was the principal cause of that great reaction 
which has since thrown her so decidedly on the side of the protective policy. 
The other error was that as to coarse cottons, on which the duty was as much 
too hio^h as that on iron was too low. It introduced, besides, the obnoxious 
minimum principle, which has since been so mischievously extended ; and to 
that extent, I am constrained, in candour, to acknowledge, as I wish to disguise 
nothing, the protective principle was recognised by the act of 1816. How this 
was overlooked at the time, it is not in my power to say. It escaped my ob- 
servation, which I can account for only on the ground that the principle was 
then new, and that my attention was engaged by another important subject 
— the question of the currency, then so urgent, and with which, as chairman 
of the committee, I was particularly charged. With these exceptions, I again 
repeat, I see nothing in the bill to condemn ; yet it is on the ground that the 
members from the state voted for the bill, that the attempt is now made to hold 
up Carolina as responsible for the whole system of protection which has since 
followed, though she has resisted its progress in every stage. Was there ever 
greater injustice 1 And how is it to be accounted for, but as forming a part of 
that systematic misrepresentation and calumny which has been directed for so 
many years, without interruption, against that gallant and generous state ? And 
why has she thus been assailed ] Merely because she abstained from taking 
any part in the Presidential canvass — believing that it had degenerated into a 
mere system of imposition on the people — controlled, almost exclusively, by 
those whose object it is to obtain the patronage of the government, and that 
without regard to principle or policy. Standing apart from what she considered 
a contest in which the public had no interest, she has been assailed by both 
parties with a fury altogether unparalleled; but which, pursuing the course 
which she believed liberty and duty required, she has met with a firmness equal 
to the fierceness of the assault. In the midst of this attack, I have not escaped. 
With a view of inflicting a wound on the state through me, I have been held 
up as the author of the protective system, and one of its most strenuous advo- 
cates. It is with pain that I allude to myself on so deep and grave a subject 
as that now under discussion, and which, I sincerely believe, involves the lib- 
erty of the country. I now regret that, under the sense of injustice which the 
remarks of a senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Wilkins) excited for the moment^ 
I hastily gave my pledge to defend myself against the charge which has^ been 
made in reference to my course in 1816 : not that there will be any difliculty 

1 ClUV^i 

in repelling tne cnarge, dui oecuu&t; i icci a ucc^ 
cussion, in any degree, from a subject of so much magnitude to one of so little 
importance as the consistency or inconsistency of myself, or any other indi- 
vidual, particularly in connexion with an event so long since passed. But for 
this hasty pledge, I would have remained silent, as to my own course, on this 
occasion, and would have borne with patience and calmness this, with the 
many other misrepresentations with which I have been so incessantly assailed 
for so many years. 

The charge that I was the author of the protective system has no other 
foundation but that I, in common with the almost entire South, gave my support 
to the tarifi'of 1816. It is true that I advocated that measure, for which I may 
rest my defence, without taking any other, on the ground that it was a tariff for 
revenue, and not for protection, which I have established beyond the power of 
controversy. But my speech on the occasion has been brought in judgment 
against me by the senator from Pennsylvania. I have since cast my eyes over 
the speech ; and I will surprise, I have no doubt, the senator, by telling him 
that, with the exception of some hasty and unguarded expressions, I retract 
nothing I uttered on that occasion. I only ask that I may be judged, in refer- 
ence to it, in that spirit of fairness and justice which is due to the occasion : 
taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was delivered, and 
bearing in mind that the subject was a tariff for revenue, and not for protection ; 
for reducing, and not raising the revenue. But, before I explain the then con- 
dition of the country, from which my main arguments in favour of the measure 
•were drawn, it is nothing but an act of justice to myself that I should state a 
fact in connexion with my speech, that is necessary to explain what I have call- 
ed hasty and unguarded expressions. My speech was an imprompiu ; and, as 
such, I apologized to the house, as appears from the speech as printed, for of- 
fering my sentiments on the question without having duly reflected on the sub- 
ject. It was delivered at the request of a friend, when I had not previously 
the least intention of addressing the house. I allude to Samuel D. Ingham, 
then and now, as I am proud to say, a personal and political friend — a man of 
talents and integrity — with a clear head, and firm and patriotic heart : then 
among the leading members of the house : in the palmy state of his political 
glory, though now for a moment depressed — depressed, did I say ? no ! it is 
his state which is depressed — Pennsylvania, and not Samuel D. Ingham ! 
Pennsylvania, which has deserted him under circumstances which, instead of 
depressing, ought to have elevated him in her estimation. He came to me, 
when sitting at my desk writing, and said that the house was falling into some 
confusion, accompanying it with a remark, that I knew how difficult it was to 
rally so large a body when once broken on a tax bill, as had been experienced 
during the late war. Having a higher opinion of my influence than it desers-ed, 
he requested me to say something to prevent the confusion. I replied that I 
was at a loss what to say ; that I had been busily engaged on the currency, 
which was then in great confusion, and which, as I have stated, had been pla- 
ced particularly under my charge, as the chairman of the committee on that 
subject. He repeated his request, and the speech which the senator fram Penn- 
sylvania has complimented so highly was the result. 

I will ask whether the facts stated ought not, in justice, to be borne in mind 
by those who would hold me accountable, not only for the general scope of the 
speech, but for every word and sentence which it contains ? But, in asking this 
question, it is not my intention to repudiate the speech. All I ask is, that I 
may be judged by the rules which, in justice, belong to the case. Let it be 
recollected that the bill was a revenue bill, and, of course, that it was constitu- 
tional. I need not remind the Senate that, when the measure is constitutional, 
all arguments calculated to show its beneficial operation may be legitimately 
pressed into service, without taking into consideration whether the subject to 

for instance, a question were beiore tnis body to lay a duty on iiibies, and a 
motion were made to reduce the duty, or admit Bibles duty free, who could doubt 
that the argument in favour of the motion, that the increased circulation of the 
Bible would be in favour of the morality and religion of the country, would be 
strictly proper 1 Or who would suppose that he who adduced it had committed 
himself on the constitutionality of taking the religion or morals of the country 
under the charge of the Federal Government? Again: suppose the question 
to be to raise the duty on silk, or any other article of luxury, and that it should 
be supported on the ground that it was an article mainly consumed by the rich 
and extravagant, could it be fairly inferred that, in the opinion of the speaker. 
Congress had a right to pass sumptuary laws ? I only ask that these plain 
rules may be applied to my argument on the tariff of 1816. They turn almost 
entirely on the benefits which manufactures conferred on the country in time 
war, and which no one could doubt. The country had recently passed through 
such a state. The world was at that time deeply agitated by the effects of the 
great conflict which had so long raged in Europe, and which no one could tell 
how soon again might return. Bonaparte had but recently been overthrown ; 
the whole southern part of this Continent was in a state of revolution, and was 
threatened with the interference of the Holy Alliance, which, had it occurred, 
must almost necessarily have involved this country in a most dangerous conflict. 
It was under these circumstances that I delivered the speech, in which I urged 
the house that, in the adjustment of the tariff, reference ought to be had to a 
state of war as well as peace, and that its provisions ought to be fixed on the 
compound views of the two periods — making some sacrifice in peace, in order 
that less might be made in war. Was this principle false ? and, in urging it, did I 
commit myself to that system of oppression since grown up, and which has for 
its object the enriching of one portion of the country at the expense of the other ? 

The plain rule in all such cases is, that when a measure is proposed, the first 
thing is to ascertain its constitutionality ; and, that being ascertained, the next is 
its expediency ; wliich last opens the whole field of argument for and against. 
Every topic may be urged calculated to prove it wise or unwise : so in a bill 
to raise imposts. It must first be ascertained that the bill is based on the prin- 
ciples of revenue, and that the money raised is necessary for the wants of 
the country. These being ascertained, every argument, direct and indirect, may 
be fairly offered, which may go to show that, under all the circumstances, the 
provisions of the bill are proper or improper. Had this plain and simple rule 
been adhered to, we should never have heard of the complaint of Carolina. 
Her objection is not against the improper modification of a bill acknowledged to 
be for revenue, but that, under the name of imposts, a power essentially differ- 
ent from the taxing power is exercised — partaking much more of the character 
of a penalty than a tax. Nothing is more common than that things closely re- 
sembling in appearance should widely and essentially differ in their character. 
Arsenic, for instance, resembles flour, yet one is a deadly poison, and the other 
that which constitutes the staff of life. So duties imposed, whether for reve- 
nue or protection, may be called imposts ; though nominally and apparently the 
same, yet they differ essentially in their real character. 

I shall now return to my speech on the tarifl'of 1816. To determine what 
my opinions really were on the subject of protection at that time, it will be 
proper to advert to my sentiments before and after that period. My sentiments 
preceding 1816, on this subject, are matter of record. I came into Congress, 
in 1812, a devoted friend and supporter of the then administration ; yet one of 
my first efforts was to brave the administration, by opposing its favourite meas- 
ure, the restrictive system — embargo, non-intercourse, and all — and that upoa 
the priaciple of free trade. The system remained in fashion for a time ; but, 
after the overthrow of Bonaparte, I reported a bill i'rom the Committee on For- 


cign rielaiions,to repeal me wnuie s^sieui ui le&uii-uvc muaouics. w ime me 
bill was iiiider consideration, a worthy man, then a member of the house (Mr. 
M'Kim, of Baltimore), moved to except the non-importation act, which he sup- 
ported on the (ground of encouragement to manufactures. I resisted the motion 
on the verv (grounds on which Mr. M'Kim supported it. I maintained that the 
manufacturers were then receiving too much protection, and warned its friends 
that the witlidrawal of the protection which the war and the high duties then 
afforded would cause great embarrassment ; and that the true policy, in the 
mean time, was to admit foreign goods as freely as possible, in order to dimin- 
ish the anticipated embarrassment on the return of peace ; intimating, at the 
same time, my desire to see the tariff revised, with a view of affording a moder- 
ate and permanent protection.* 

Such was my conduct before 1816. Shortly after that period I left Congress, 
and had no opportunity of making known my sentiments in reference to the pro- 
tective system, which shortly after began to be agitated. But I have the most 
conclusive evidence that I considered the arrangement of the revenue, in 1816, 
as growing out of the necessity of the case, and due to the consideration of jus- 
tice ; but that, even at that early period, I was not without my fears that even 
that arrangement would lead to abuse and future difficulties. I regret that I 
have been compelled to dwell so long on myself; but trust that, whatever cen- 
sure may be incurred, will not be directed against me, but against those who 
have drawn my conduct into the controversy ; and who may hope, by assailing 
my motives, to wound the cause with which I am proud to be identified. 

I may add, that all the Southern States voted with South Carolina in support of 
the bill : not that they had any interest in manufactures, but on the ground that 
they had supported the war, and, of course, felt a corresponding obligation to 
sustain those establishments which had grown up under the encouragement it 
had incidentally afforded ; while most of the New-England members were op- 
posed to the measure principally, as I believe, on opposite principles. 

I have now, I trust, satisfactorily repelled the charge against the state, and 
myself personally, in reference to the tariff of 1816. Whatever support the 
state has given the bill, originated in the most disinterested motives. 

There was not within the limits of the state, so far as my memory serves me, 
a single cotton or woUen establishment. Her whole dependance was on agri- 
culture, and the cultivation of two great staples, rice and cotton. Her obvious 
policy was to keep open the market of the world unchecked and unrestricted : 
to buy cheap, and to sell high ; but from a feeling of kindness, combined with a 
sense of justice, she added her support to the bill. We had been told by the 
agents of the manufacturers that the protection which the measure afforded 
would be sufficient ; to which we the more readily conceded, as it was consid- 
ered a final adjustment of the question. 

Let us now turn our eyes forward, and see what has been the conduct of the 
parties to this arrangement. Have Carolina and the South disturbed this ad- 
justment ? No : they have never raised their voice in a single instance against 
it, even though this measure, moderate, comparatively, as it is, was felt with 
no inconsiderable pressure on their interests. Was this example imitated on 
the opposite side ? Far otherwise. Scarcely had the president signed his 
name, before application was made for an increase of duties, which was repeat- 
ed, with demands continually growing, till the passage of the act of 1828. What 
course now, I would ask, did it become Carolina to pursue in reference to these 
demands ? Instead of acquiescing in them, because she had acted generously 
in adjusting the tariff of 1816, she saw, in her generosity on that occasion, ad- 
ditional motives for that firm and decided resistance which she has since made 
against the system of protection. She accordingly commenced a systematic 
opposition to all farther encroachments, which continued from 1818 till 1828 : 
* See Mr. C.'s Speech in the National Intelligencer, April, 1814. 

her Legislature. Ihese all proved insumcient to stem the current oi encroach- 
ment ; but, notwithstanding the heavy pressure on her industry, she never de- 
spaired of relief till the passage of the act of 1828 — that bill of abominations — 
engendered by avarice and political intrigue. Its adoption opened the eyes 
of the state, and gave a new character to the controversy. Till then, the ques- 
tion had been, whether the protective system was constitutional and expedient ; 
but, after that, she no longer considered the question whether the right of regu- 
lating the industry of the states was a reserved or delegated power, but what 
right a state possesses to defend her reserved powers against the encroach- 
ments of the Federal Government : a question on the decision of which the 
value of all the reserved powers depends. The passage of the act of 1828, with 
all its objectionable features, and under the odious circumstances under which 
it was adopted, almost, if not entirely, closed the door of hope through the Gen- 
eral Government. It afforded conclusive evidence that no reasonable prospect 
of relief from Congress could be entertained ; yet, the near approach of the pe- 
riod of the payment of the public debt, and the elevation of General Jackson to 
the presidency, still afforded a ray of hope — not so strong, however, as to pre- 
vent the state from turning her eyes for final relief to her reserved powers. 

Under these circumstances commenced that inquiry into the nature and extent 
of the reserved powers of a state, and the means which they afford of resist- 
ance against the encroachments of the General Government, which has been 
pursued with so much zeal and energy, and, I may add, intelligence. Never 
was there a political discussion carried on with greater activity, and which 
appealed more directly to the intelligence of a community. Throughout the 
whole, no address has been made to the low and vulgar passions ; but, on the 
contrary, the discussion has turned upon the higher principles of political econ- 
omy, connected with the operations of the tariff system, calculated to show its 
real bearing on the interests of the state, and on the structure of our political 
system ; and to show the true character of the relations between the state and 
the General Government, and the means which the states possess of defending 
those powers which they reserved in forming the Federal Government. 

In this great canvass, men of the most commanding talents and acquirements 
have engaged with the greatest ardour ; and the people have been addressed 
through every channel — by essays in the public press, and by speeches in their 
public assemblies — until they have become thoroughly instructed on the nature 
of the oppression, and on the rights which they possess, under the Constitution, 
to throw it off. 

If gentlemen suppose that the stand taken by the people of Carolina rests on 
passion and delusion, they are wholly mistaken. The case is far otherwise. 
No community, from the legislator to the ploughman, were ever better instruct- 
ed in their rights ; and the resistance on which the state has resolved is the 
result of mature reflection, accompanied with a deep conviction that their rights 
have been violated, and that the means of redress which they have adopted are 
consistent with the principles of the Constitution. 

But while this active canvass was carried on, which looked to the reserved 
powers as the final means of redress if all others failed, the state at the same 
time cherished a hope, as I have already stated, that the election of General 
Jackson to the presidency would prevent the necessity of a resort to extrem- 
ities. He was identified with the interests of the staple states ; and, having the 
same interest, it was believed that his great popularity — a popularity of the 
strongest character, as it rested on military services — would enable him, as they 
hoped, gradually to bring down the system of protection, without shock or inju- 
ry to any interest. Under these views, the canvass in favour of General Jack- 
son's election to the presidency was carried on with great zeal, in conjunction 
with that active inquiry into the reserved powers of the states on which final 

whom ihey were thus striving to elevate to the highest seat of power would 
prove so utterly false to all their hopes. Man is, indeed, ignorant of the future ; 
nor was there ever a stronger illustration of the observation than is afforded 
by the result of that election ! The very event on which they had buiU their 
Lopes has been turned against them, and the very individual to whom they 
looked as a deliverer, and whom, under that impression, they strove for so 
many years to elevate to power, is now the most powerful instrument in the 
hands of his and their bitterest opponents to put down them and their cause ! 

Scarcely had he been elected, when it became apparent, from the organiza- 
tion of his cabinet, and other indications, that all their hopes of relief through 
him were blasted. The admission of a single hidividual into the cabinet, under 
the circumstances which accompanied that admission, threw all into confusion. 
The mischievous influence over the President, through which this individual 
was admitted into the cabinet, soon became apparent. Instead of turning his 
eyes forward to the period of the payment of the public debt, which was then 
near at hand, and to the present dangerous political crisis, which was inevita- 
ble unless averted by a timely and wise system of measures, the attention of 
the President was absorbed by mere party arrangements, and circumstances too 
disreputable to be mentioned here, except by the most distant allusion. 

Here I must pause for a moment to repel a charge which has been so often 
made, and which even the President has reiterated in his proclamation— the 
charge that I have been actuated, in the part which I have taken, by feelings of 
disappointed ambition. I again repeat, that I deeply regret the necessity of 
noticing myself in so important a discussion ; and that nothing can induce me 
to advert to my own course but the conviction that it is due to the cause, at 
whick a blow is aimed through me. It is only in this view that I notice it. 

It illy became the chief magistrate to make this charge. The course which 
the state took, and which led to the present controversy between her and the 
General Government, was taken as far back as 1828— in the very midst of that 
severe canvass which placed him in power— and in that very canvass Carolina 
openly avowed and zealously maintained those very principles which he, the 
chief magistrate, now officially pronounces to be treason and rebellion. That was 
the period at which he ought to have spoken. Having remained silent then, and 
having, under his approval, impUed by that silence, received the support and the 
vote of the state, I, if a sense of decorum did not prevent it, might recriminate 
with the double charge of deception and ingratitude. My object, however, is not 
to assail the President, but to defend myself against a most unfounded charge. 
The time alone at which the course upon which this charge of disappointed am- 
bition is founded, will of itself repel it, in the eye of every unprejudiced and 
honest man. The doctrine which I now sustain, under the present difficulties, 
I openly avowed and maintained immediately after the act of 1828, that " bill 
of abominations," as it has been so often and properly termed. Was I at that 
period disappointed in any views of ambition which I might be supposed to en- 
tertain ? I was Vice-president of the United States, elected by an overwhelm- 
ing majority. I was a candidate for re-election on the ticket with General 
Jackson himself, with a certain prospect of a triumphant success of that tick- 
et, and with a fair j)rospect of the highest office to which an American citizen 
can aspire. What was my course under these prospects ? Did I look to my 
own advancement, or to an honest and faithful discharge of my duty ? Let facts 
speak for themselves. When the bill to which I have referred came from the 
other house to the Senate, the almost universal impression was, that its fate 
would depend upon my casting vote. It was known that, as the bill then stood, 
the Senate was nearly equally divided ; and as it was a combined measure, ori- 
ginating with the politicijans and manufacturers, and intended as much to bear 
upon the Presidential election as to protect manufactures, it was believed that, 

order to defeat General Jackson's election, as well as my own. The friends 
of General Jackson were alarmed, and I was earnestly entreated to leave the 
chair in order to avoid the responsibility, under the plausible argument that, if 
the Senate should be equally divided, the bill would be lost without the aid of 
my casting vote. The reply to this entreaty was, that no consideration person- 
al to myself could induce me to take such a course ; that I considered the 
measure as of the most dangerous character, and calculated to produce the most 
fearful crisis ; that the payment of the public debt was just at hand ; and that the 
great increase of revenue which it would pour into the treasury would acceler- 
ate the approach of that period, and that the country would be placed in the 
most trying of situations — with an immense revenue without the means of ab- 
sorption upon any legitimate or constitutional object of appropriation, and would 
be compelled to submit to all the corrupting consequences of a large surplus, or 
to make a sudden reduction of the rates of duties, which would prove ruinous to 
the very interests which were then forcing the passage of the bill. Under these 
views I determined to remain in the chair, and if the bill came to me, to give 
my casting vote against it, and in doing so, to give my reasons at large ; but at 
the same time I informed my friends that 1 would retire from the ticket, so that 
the election of General Jackson might not be embarrassed by any act of mine. 
Sir, I was amazed at the folly and mfatuation of that period. So completely 
absorbed was Congress in the game of ambition and avarice, from the double 
impulse of the manufacturers and politicians, that none but a few appeared to 
anticipate the present crisis, at which now all are alarmed, but which is the in- 
evitable result of what was then done. As to myself, I clearly foresaw what 
tas since followed. The road of ambition lay open before me — I had but to 
follow the corrupt tendency of the times — but I chose to tread the rugged path 
of duty. 

It was thus that the reasonable hope of relief through the election of Gen- 
eral Jackson was blasted ; but still one other hope remained, that the final dis- 
charge of the public debt — an event near at hand — would remove our burden. 
That event would leave in the treasury a large surplus : a surplus that could 
not be expended under the most extravagant schemes of appropriation, having 
the least colour of decency or constitutionality. That event at last arrived. 
At the last session of Congress, it was avowed on all sides that the public debt, 
for all practical purposes, was in fact paid, the small surplus remaining being 
nearly covered by the money in the treasury and the bonds for duties, which 
had already accrued ; but with the arrival of this event our last hope was doom- 
ed to be disappointed. After a long session of many months, and the most ear- 
nest effort on the part of South Carolina and the other Southern States to obtain 
relief, all that could be effected was a small reduction in the amount of the du- 
ties ; but a reduction of such a character, that, while it diminished the amount 
of burden, distributed that burden more unequally than even the obnoxious act 
of 1828 : reversing the principle adopted by the bill of 1816, of laying higher 
duties on the unprotected than the protected articles, by repealing almost en- 
tirely the duties laid upon the former, and imposing the burden almost entirely i 
on the latter. It was thus that, instead of relief — instead of an equal distribu- 
tion of the burdens and benefits of the government, on the payment of the debt, 
as had been fondly anticipated — the duties were so arranged as to be, in fact, 
bounties on one side and taxation on the other : thus placing the two great sec- 
tions of the country in direct conflict in reference to its fiscal action, and there- , 
by letting in that flood of political corruption which threatens to sweep away '• 
our Constitution and our liberty. 

This unequal and unjust arrangement was pronounced, both by the adminis- 
tration, through its proper organ, the secretary of the treasury, and by the op- 
position, to be a permanent adjustment; and it was thus that all hope of relief 

through the action of the General Government terminated, and the crisis so long 
apprehended at length arrived, at which the state was compelled to choose be- 
tween absolute acquiescence in a ruinous system of oppression, or a resort to 
her reserved powers — powers of which she alone was the rightful judge, and 
•which only, in this momentous juncture, can save her. She determined on the 

The consent of two thirds of her Legislature was necessary for the call of a 
convention, which was considered the only legitimate organ through which the 
people, in their sovereignty, could speak. After an arduous struggle, the State 
Rights party succeeded : more than two thirds of both branches of the Legisla- 
ture favourable to a convention were elected ; a convention was called — the 
ordinance adopted. The convention was succeeded by a meeting of the Legis- 
lature, when the laws to carry the ordinance into execution were enacted : all 
of which have been communicated by the President, have been referred to the 
Committee on the Judiciary, and this bill is the result of their labour. 

Having now corrected some of the prominent misrepresentations as to the na- 
ture of this controversy, and given a rapid sketch of the movement of the state 
in reference to it, I will next proceed to notice some objections connected with 
the ordinance and the proceedings under it. 

The first and most prominent of these is directed against what is called the 
test oath, which an effort has been made to render odious. So far from de- 
serving the denunciation which has been levelled against it, I view this provis- 
ion of the ordinance as but the natural result of the doctrines entertained by 
the state, and the position which she occupies. The people of that state be- 
lieve that the Union is a union of states, and not of individuals ; that it was 
formed by the states, and that the citizens of the several states were bound to it 
through the acts of their several states ; that each state ratified the Constitution 
for itself, and that it was only by such ratification of a state that any obligation 
was imposed upon the citizens : thus believing, it is the opinion of the people 
of Carolina that it belongs to the state which has imposed the obligation to de- 
clare, in the last resort, the extent of this obligation, as far as her citizens are 
concerned ; and this upon the plain principles which exist in all analogous 
cases of compact between sovereign bodies. On this principle, the people of 
the state, acting in their sovereign capacity in convention, precisely as they 
adopted their own and the federal Constitution, haved eclared by the ordi- 
nance, that the acts of Congress which imposed duties under the authority to 
lay imposts, are acts, not for revenue, as intended by the Constitution, but for 
protection, and therefore null and void. The ordinance thus enacted by the 
people of the state themselves, acting as a sovereign community, is as obliga- 
tory on the citizens of the state as any portion of the Constitution. In pre- 
scribing, then, the oath to obey the ordinance, no more was done than to pre- 
scribe an oath to obey the Constitution. It is, in fact, but a particular oath of 
allegiance, and in every respect similar to that which is prescribed under the 
Constitution of the United States, to be administered to all the officers of the 
State and Federal Governments ; and is no more deserving the harsh and bit- 
ter epithets which have been heaped upon it than that, or any similar oath. It 
ought to be borne in mind, that, according to the opinion which prevails in Caro- 
lina, the right of resistance to the unconstitutional laws of Congress belongs to 
the state, and not to her individual citizens ; and that, though the latter may, in 
a mere question of meum and tuum, resist, through the courts, an unconstitu- 
tional encroachment upon their rights, yet the final stand against usurpation 
rests not with them, but with the state of which they are members ; and such 
act of resistance by a state binds the conscience and allegiance of the citizen. 
But there appears to be a general misapprehension as to the extent to which 
the state has acted under this part of the ordinance. Instead of sweeping every 
officer by a general proscription of the minority, as has been represented in de- 

VeQ. 1 lie Siaie Iias, m lai^i, a,ui,t;u Willi iiits yieciteai, uciiuciiitroo, aii i;ni;uiiisia.ii- 

ces considered, towards citizens who differed from the majority ; and, in that 
spirit, has directed the oath to be administered only in cases of some official 
act directed to be performed in which obedience to the ordinance is involved. 

It has been farther objected that the state has acted precipitately. What ! 
precipitately ! after making a strenuous resistance for twelve years — by discus- 
sion here and in the other house of Congress — by essays in all forms — by res- 
olutions, remonstrances, and protests on the part of her Legislature — and, final- 
ly, by attempting an appeal to the judicial power of the United States ? I say 
attempting, for they have been prevented from bringing the question fairly be- 
fore the court, and that by an act of that very majority in Congress who now 
upbraid them for not making that appeal ; of that majority who, on a motion of 
one of the members in the other house from South Carolina, refused to give to 
the act of 1828 its true title — that it was a protective, and not a revenue act. 
The state has never, it is true, relied upon that tribunal, the Supreme Court, to 
vindicate its reserved rights ; yet they have always considered it as an auxili- 
ary means of defence, of which they would gladly have availed themselves to 
test the constitutionality of protection, had they not been deprived of the means 
of doing so by the act of the majority. 

Notwithstanding this long delay of more than ten years, under this continued 
encroachment of the government, we now hear it on all sides, by friends and foes, 
gravely pronounced that the state has acted precipitately — that her conduct has 
been rash ! That such should be the language of an interested majority, who, 
by means of this unconstitutional and oppressive system, are annually extorting 
millions from the South to be bestowed upon other sections, is not at all sur- 
prising. Whatever impedes the course of avarice and ambition will ever be de- 
nounced as rash and precipitate ; and had South Carolina delayed her resist- 
ance fifty instead of twelve years, she would have heard from the same quarter 
the same language ; but it is really surprising that those who are suffering in 
common with herself, and who have complained equally loud of their grievan- 
ces, who have pronounced the very acts which she has asserted within her 
limits to be oppressive, unconstitutional, and ruinous, after so long a struggle — a 
struggle longer than that which preceded the separation of these states from the 
mother-country — longer than the period of the Trojan war — should now com- 
plain of precipitancy ! No, it is not Carolina which has acted precipitately ; but 
her sister states, who have suffered in common with her, have acted tardily. 
Had they acted as she has done, had they performed their duty with equal en- 
ergy and promptness, our situation this day would be very different from what 
we now find it. Delays are said to be dangerous ; and never was the maxim 
more true than in the present case, a case of monopoly. It is the very nature 
of monopolies to grow. If we take from one side a large portion of the pro- 
ceeds of its labour and give it to the other, the side from which we take must 
constantly decay, and that to which we give must prosper and increase. Such 
is the action of the protective system. It exacts from the South a large portion 
of the proceeds of its industry, which it bestows upon the other sections, in the 
shape of bounties to manufactures, and appropriations in a thousand forms ; 
pensions, improvement of rivers and harbours, roads and canals, and in every 
shape that wit or ingenuity can devise. Can we, then, be surprised that the 
principle of monopoly grows, when it is so amply remunerated at the expense . 
of those who support it ? And this is the real reason of the fact which we wit- 
ness, that all acts for protection pass with small minorities, but soon come to be 
sustained by great and overwhelming majorities. Those who seek the monop- 
oly endeavour to obtain it in the most exclusive shape ; and they take care, 
accordingly, to associate only a sufficient number of interests barely to pass it 
through the two houses of Congress, on the plain principle that the greater the 

greater is the advantage to the monopolists. Acting in this spirit, we have 
often seen with what exact precision they count : adding wool to woollens, as- 
sociating lead and iron, feeling their way, until a bare majority is obtained, 
when the bill passes, connecting just as many interests as are sufficient to ensure 
its success, and no more. In a short time, however, we have invariably found 
that this h(i?i becomes a decided majority, under the certain operation which 
compels individuals to desert the pursuits which the monopoly has rendered 
unprofitable, that they may participate in those pursuits which it has rendered 
profitable. It is against this dangerous and growing disease which South Car- 
olina has acted : a disease whose cancerous action would soon have spread to 
every part of the system, if not arrested. 

There is another powerful reason why the action of the state could not have 
been safely delayed. The public debt, as I have already stated, for all practi- 
cal purposes, has already been paid ; and, under the existing duties, a large 
annual surplus of many millions must come into the treasury. It is impossi- 
ble to look at this state of things without seeing the most mischievous conse- 
quences ; and, among others, if not speedily corrected, it would interpose pow- 
erful and almost insuperable obstacles to throwing off the burden under which 
the South has been so long labouring. The disposition of the surplus would 
become a subject of violent and corrupt struggle, and could not fail to rear up 
new and powerful interests in support of the existing system, not only in those 
sections which have been heretofore benefited by it, but even in the South itself. 
I cannot but trace to the anticipation of this state of the treasury the sudden 
and extraordinary movements which took place at the last session in the Vir- 
ginia Legislature, in which the whole South is vitally interested.* It is im- 
possible for any rational man to believe that that state could seriously have 
thought of effecting the scheme to which I allude by her own resources, with- 
out powerful aid from the General Government. 

It is next objected, that the enforcing acts have legislated the United States 
out of South Carolina. I have already replied to this objection on another oc- 
casion, and will now but repeat what I then said : that they have been legisla- 
ted out only to the extent that they had no right to enter. The Constitution 
has admitted the jurisdiction of theUnited States within the limits of the sev- 
eral states only so far as the delegated powers authorize ; beyond that they are 
intruders, and may rightfully be expelled ; and that they have been efficiently 
expelled by the legislation of the state through her civil process, as has been 
acknowledged on all sides in the debate, is only a confirmation of the truth of 
the doctrine for which the majority in Carolina have contended. 

The very point at issue between the two parties there is, whether nullifica- 
tion is a peaceable and an efficient remedy against an imconstitutional act of the 
General Government, and which may be asserted as such through the state tri- 
bunals. Both parties agree that the acts against which it is directed are un- 
constitutional and oppressive. The controversy is only as to the means by 
which our citizens may be protected against the acknowledged encroachments 
on their rights. This being the point at issue between the parties, and the 
very object of the majority being an efficient protection of the citizens through 
the state tribunals, the measures adopted to enforce the ordinance of course 
received the most decisive character. AVe were not children, to act by halves. 
Yet for acting thus efficiently the state is denounced, and this bill reported, to 
overrule, by military force, the civil tribunals and civil process of the state ! 
Sir, I consider this bill, and the arguments which have been urged on this floor 
in its support, as the most triumphant acknowledgment that nullification is 
peaceful and efficient, and so deeply intrenched in the principles of our system, 

* Having for their object the emancipation and colonization of slaves. 

the su})remacy of military lorce in lieu of the supremacy oi the laws. In fact, 
the advocates of this bill refute their own argument. They tell us that the or- 
dinance is unconstitutional ; that they infract the Constitution of South Carolina, 
although, to me, the objection appears absurd, as it was adopted by the very 
authority which adopted the Constitution itself. They also tell us that the Su- 
preme Court is the appointed arbiter of all controversies between a state and 
the General Government. Why, then, do they not leave this controversy to 
that tribunal 1 Why do they not confide to them the abrogation of the ordi- 
nance, and the laws made in pursuance of it, and the assertion of that suprema- 
cy which they claim for the laws of Congress ? The state stands pledged to 
resist no process of the court. Why, then, confer on the President the exten- 
sive and unlimited powers provided in this bill ? Why authorize him to use 
military force to arrest the civil process of the state ? But one answer can be 
given : That, in a contest between the state and the General Government, if 
the resistance be limited on both sides to the civil process, the state, by its in- 
herent sovereignty, standing upon its reserved powers, will prove too powerful 
in such a controversy, and must triumph over the Federal Government, sustain- 
ed by its delegated and limited authority ; and in this answer we have an ac- 
knowledgment of the truth of those great principles for which the state has so 
firmly and nobly contended. 

Having made these remarks, the great question is now presented. Has Con- 
gress the right to pass this bill 1 which I will next proceed to consider. The 
decision of this question involves the inquiry into the provisions of the bill. 
What are they ? It puts at the disposal of the President the army and navy, 
and the entire militia of the country ; it enables him, at his pleasure, to subject 
every man in the United States, not exempt from militia duty, to martial law ; 
to call him from his ordinary occupation to the field, and under the penalty of 
fine and imprisonment, inflicted by a court martial, to imbrue his hand in his 
brothers' blood. There is no limitation on the power of the sword, and that 
over the purse is equally without restraint ; for, among the extraordinary fea- 
tures of the bill, it contains no appropriation, which, under existing circumstan- 
ces, is tantamount to an unlimited appropriation. The President may, under its 
authority, incur any expenditure, and pledge the national faith to meet it. He 
may create a new national debt, at the very moment of the termination of the 
former — a debt of millions, to be paid out of the proceeds of the labour of that 
section of the country whose dearest constitutional rights this bill prostrates ! 
Thus exhibiting the extraordinary spectacle, that the very section of the coun- 
try which is urging tliis measure, and carrying the sword of devastation against 
us, are, at the same time, incurring a new debt, to be paid by those whose rights 
are violated ; while those who violate them are to receive the benefits, in the 
shape of bounties and expenditures. 

And for what purpose is the unlimited control of the purse and of the sword 
thus placed at the disposition of the executive 1 To make war against one of 
the free and sovereign members of this confederation, which the bill proposes 
to deal with, not as a state, but as a collection of banditti or outlaws. Thus ex- 
hibiting the impious spectacle of this government, the creature of the states, 
making war against the power to which it owes its existence. 

The bill violates the Constitution, plainly and palpably, in many of its pro- 
visions, by authorizing the President, at his pleasure, to place the different 
ports of this Union on an unequal footing, contrary to that provision of the Con- 
stitution which declares that no preference shall be given to one port over 
another. It also violates the Constitution by authorizing him, at his discretion, 
to impose cash duties on one port, while credit is allowed in others ; by enabling 
the President to regulate commerce, a power vested in Congress alone ;. and by 
drawing within the jurisdiction of the United States courts powers aever in- 


tended to be conferred on them. As great as these objections are, they become 
insignificant in the provisions of a bill which, by a single blow— by treating the 
states as a mere lawless mass of individuals — prostrates all the barriers of the 
Constitution. I will pass over the minor considerations, and proceed directly 
to the trreat point. This bill proceeds on the ground that the entire sovereignty 
of this'country belongs to the American people, as forming one great community, 
and re<^ards the states as mere fractions or counties, and not as an integral part 
of the Union : having no more right to resist the encroachments of the govern- 
ment than a county has to resist the authority of a state ; and treating such re- 
sistance as the lawless acts of so many individuals, without possessing sover- 
eif^ntv or political rights. It has been said that the bill declares v/ar against 
South Carolina. No. It decrees a massacre of her citizens ! War has some- 
thing ennobling about it, and, with all its horrors, brings into action the highest 
qualities, intellectual and moral. It was, perhaps, in the order of Providence 
that it should be permitted for that very purpose. But this bill declares no war, 
except, indeed, it be that which savages wage— a war, not against the commu- 
nity, but the citizens of whom that community is composed. But I regard it as 
worse than savage warfare — as an attempt to take away life under the colour of 
law, wdthout the trial by jury, or any other safeguard which the Constitution has 
thrown around the life of the citizen ! It authorizes the President, or even his 
deputies, when they may suppose the law to be violated, without the interven- 
tion of a court or jury, to kill without mercy or discrimination ! 

It has been said by the senator from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy) to be a meas- 
ure of peace ! Yes, such peace as the wolf gives to the lamb — the kite to the 
dove ! Such peace as Russia gives to Poland, or death to its victim ! A peace, 
by extinguishing the political existence of the state, by awing her into an aban- 
donment of the exercise of every power which constitutes her a sovereign com- 
munity. It is to South Carolina a question of self-preservation ; and I proclaim 
it, that, should this bill pass, and an attempt be made to enforce it, it will be 
resisted, at every hazard — even that of death itself. Death is not the greatest 
calamity : there are others still more terrible to the free and brave, and among 
them may be placed the loss of liberty and honour. There are thousands of 
her brave sons who, if need be, are prepared cheerfully to lay down their lives in 
defence of the state, and the great principles of constitutional liberty for which 
she is contending. God forbid that this should become necessary ! It never 
can be, unless this government is resolved to bring the question to extremity, when 
her gallant sons will stand prepared to perform the last duty — to die nobly. 

I go on the ground that this Constitution was made by the states ; that it is a 
federal union of the states, in which the several states still retain their sover- 
eignty. If these views be correct, I have not characterized the bill too strongly, 
which presents the question whether they be or be not. I will not enter into 
the discussion of that question now. I will rest it, for the present, on what I 
have said on the introduction of the resolutions now on the table, under a hope 
that another opportunity will be afforded for more ample discussion. I will, for 
the present, confine my remarks to the objections which have been raised to 
the views which I presented when I introduced them. The authority of Luther 
Martin has been adduced by the senator from Delaware, to prove that the citi- 
zens of a state, acting under the authority of a state, are liable to be punished 
as traitors by this government. As eminent as Mr. Martin was as a lawyer, 
and as high as his authority may be considered on a legal point, I cannot ac- 
cept it in determining the point at issue. The attitude which he occupied, if 
taken into view, would lessen, if not destroy, the weight of his authority. He 
had been violently opposed in Convention to the Constitution, and the very let- 
ter from which the senator has quoted was intended to dissuade Maryland from 
its adoption. With this view, it was to be expected that every consideration 
calculated to effect that object should be urged ; that real objections should be 

exaggerated ; and that those having no loundation, except mere plausible deduc- 
tions, should be presented. It is to this spirit that I attribute the opinion of 
Mr. Martin in reference to the point under consideration. But if his authority 
be good on one point, it must be admitted to be equally so on another. If his 
opinion be sufficient to prove that a citizen of the state may be punished as a 
traitor when acting under allegiance to the state, it is also sufficient to show 
I that no authority was intended to be given in the Constitution for the protection 
i of manufactures by the General Government, and that the provision in the Con- 
' stitution permitting a state to lay an impost duty, with the consent of Congress, 
was intended to reserve the right of protection to the states themselves, and 
that each state should protect its own industry. Assuming his opinion to be 
of equal authority on both points, how embarrassing would be the attitude ia 
I which it would place the senator from Delaware, and those with whom he is 
acting — that of using the sword and the bayonet to enforce the execution of an. 
unconstitutional act of Congress. I must express my surprise that the slightest 
authority in favour oi power should be received as the most conclusive evidence, 
while that M-hich is, at least, equally strong in favour of right and liberty, is 
wholly overlooked or rejected. 

Notwithstanding all that has been said, I must say that neither the senator 
from Delaware (Mr. Clayton), nor any other who has spoken on therisame side, 
has directly and fairly met the great questions at issue : Is this a federal union ? 
a union of states, as distinct from that of individuals ? Is the sovereignty in the 
several states, or in the American people in the aggregate ? The very language 
which we are compelled to use, when speaking of our political institutions, af- 
fords proof conclusive as to its real character. The terras union, federal, uni- 
ted, all imply a combination oi sovereignties, a confederation of states. They 
are never applied to an association of individuals. Who ever heard of the Uni- 
ted State of New- York, of Massachusetts, or of Virginia ? Who ever heard 
the term federal or union applied to the aggregation of individuals into one 
community 1 Nor is the other point less clear — that the sovereignty is in the 
several states, and that our system is a union of twenty-four sovereign powers, 
under a constitutional compact, and not of a divided sovereignty between the 
states severally and the United States. In spite of all that has been said, I 
maintain that sovereignty is in its nature indivisible. It is the supreme power 
in a state, and we might just as well speak of half a square, or half of a trian- 
gle, as of half a sovereignty. It is a gross error to confound the exercise of 
sovereign powers with sovereingty itself, or the delegation of such powers with 
a surrender of them. A sovereign may delegate his powers to be exercised by 
as many agents as he may think proper, under such conditions and with such 
limitations as he may impose ; but to surrender any portion of his sovereignty 
to another is to annihilate the whole. The senator from Delaware (Mr. Clay- 
ton) calls this metaphysical reasoning, which, he says, he cannot comprehend. 
If by metaphysics he means that scholastic refinement which makes distinc- 
tions without difference, no one can hold it in more utter contempt than I do ; 
but if, on the contrary, he means the power of analysis and combination — that 
power which reduces the most complex idea into its elements, which traces 
causes to their first principle, and, by the power oi generalization and combi- 
nation, unites the whole in one harmonious system — then, so far from deserv- 
ing contempt, it is the highest attribute of the human mind. It is the power 
which raises man above the brute — which distinguishes his faculties from mere 
sagacity, which he holds in common with inferior animals. It is this power 
which has raised the astronomer from being a mere gazer at the stars to the 
liigh intellectual eminence of a Newton or Laplace, and astronomy itself from 
a mere observation of insulated facts into that noble science which displays to 
our admiration the system of the universe. And shall this high power of the 
mind, which has effected such wonders when directed to the laws which con- 

trol the material world, be forever prohibited, under a senseless cry of metaphyg. 
ics, from beinn- applied to the high purpose of political science and legislation ? 
I hold them to be subject to laws as fixed as matter itself, and to be as fit a 
subject for the application of the highest intellectual power. Denunciation may, 
indeed, fall upon the philosophical inquirer into these first principles, as it did 
upon Galileo and Bacon when they first unfolded the great discoveries which . 
have immortalized their names ; but the time will come when truth will pre- 
vail in spite of prejudice and denunciation, and when politics and legislation 
will be considered as much a science as astronomy and chemistry. 

In connexion with this part of the subject, I understood the senator from Vir- 
ginia (Mr. Rives) to say that sovereignty was divided, and that a portion re- 
mained with the states severally, and that the residue was vested in the Union, 
By Union, I suppose the senator meant the United States. If such be his 
meaning — if he intended to affirm that the sovereignty Avas in the twenty-four 
states, in whatever light he may view them, our opinions will not disagree ; but, 
according to my conception, the whole sovereignty is in the several states, \vhile 
the exercise of sovereign powers is divided — a part being exercised under com- 
pact, through this General Government, and the residue through the separate 
state governments. But if the senator from Virginia (Mr. Rives) means to as- 
sert thatihe twenty-four states form but one community, with a single sovereign 
power as to the objects of the Union, it will be but the revival of the old ques- 
tion, of whether the Union is a union between states, as distinct communities, 
or a mere aggregate of the American peaple, as a mass of individuals ; and in 
this light his opinions would lead directly to consolidation. 

But to return to the bill. It is said that the bill ought to pass, because the 
law must be enforced. The law must be enforced. The imperial edict must 
be executed. It is under such sophistry, couched in general terms, without 
looking to the limitations which must ever exist in the practical exercise of 
power, that the most cruel and despotic acts ever have been covered. It was 
such sophistry as this that cast Daniel into the lion's den, and the three Inno- 
cents into the fiery furnace. Under the same sophistry the bloody edicts of 
Nero and Caligula were executed. The law must be enforced. Yes, the act 
imposing the " tea-tax must be executed." This was the very argument which 
impelled Lord North and his administration in that mad career which forever 
separated us from the British crown. Under a similar sophistry, " that religion 
must be protected," how many massacres have been perpetrated T and how many 
martyrs have been tied to the stake 1 What ! acting on this vague abstraction, 
are you prepared to enforce a law without considering whether it be just or un- 
just, constitutional or unconstitutional ? Will you collect money when it is ac- 
knowledged that it is not wanted ? He who cams the money, who digs it from 
ihe earth with the sweat of his brow, has a just title to it against the universe. 
No one has a right to touch it without his consent except his government, and 
it only to the extent of its legitimate wants ; to take more is robbery, and you 
propose by this bill to enforce robbery by murder. Yes : to this result you 
must come, by this miserable sophistry, this vague abstraction of enforcing the 
law, without a regard to the fact whether the law be just or unjust, constitution- 
al or unconstitutional. 

In the same spirit, we arc told that the Union must be preserved, without re- 
gard to the means. And how is it proposed to preserve the Union ? By 
force ! Does any man in his senses believe that this beautiful structure — this 
harmonious aggregate of states, produced by the joint consent of all — can be 
preserved by force ? Its very introduction will be certain destruction of this 
Federal Union. No, no. You cannot keep the states united in their consti- 
tutional and federal bonds by force. Force may, indeed, hold the parts togeth- 
er, but such union would be the bond between master and slave : a union of 
exaction on one side, and of unqualified obedience on the other. That obedience 

Lmon! les, exaction on tlie side oi tne master; tor this very bill is intend- 
ed to collect what can be no longer called taxes — the voluntary contribution of 
a free people — but tribute — tribute to be collected under the mouths of the can- 
non ! Your custom-house is already transferred to a garrison, and that garri- 
son with its batteries turned, not against the enemy of your country, but on sub- 
jects (I will not say citizens), on whom you propose to levy contributions. Has 
reason fled from our borders ? Have we ceased to reflect ? It is madness 
to suppose that the Union can be preserved by force. I tell you plainly, that 
the bill, should it pass, cannot be enforced. It will prove only a blot upon your 
statute-book, a reproach to the year, and a disgrace to the American Senate. 
I repeat that it will not be executed : it will rouse the dormant spirit of the 
people, and open their eyes to the approach of despotism. The country has 
sunk into avarice and political corruption, from which nothing can arouse it but 
some measure, on the part of the government, of folly and madness, such as 
that now under consideration. 

Disguise it as you may, the controversy is one between power and liberty ; 
and I will tell the gentlemen who are opposed to me, that, as strong as may be 
the love of power on their side, the love of liberty is still stronger on ours. 
History furnishes many instances of similar struggles where the love of liberty 
has prevailed against power under every disadvantage, and among them few 
more striking than that of our own Revolution ; where, as strong as was the pa- 
rent country, and feeble as were the colonies, yet, under the impulse of liberty, 
and the blessing of God, they gloriously triumphed in the contest. There are, 
indeed, many and striking analogies between that and the present controversy : 
they both originated substantially in the same cause, with this difference, that, 
in the present case, the power of taxation is converted into that of regulating 
industry ; in that, the power of regulating industry, by the regulation of com- 
merce, was attempted to be converted into the power of taxation. Were I to 
trace the analogy farther, we should find that the perversion of the taxing pow- 
er, in one case, has given precisely the same control to the Northern section 
over the industry of the Southern section of the Union, which the power to reg- 
ulate commerce gave to Great Britain over the industry of the colonies ; and 
that the very articles in which the colonies were permitted to have a free trade, 
and those in Avhich the mother-country had a monopoly, are almost identically 
the same as those in which the Southern States are permitted to have a free 
trade by the act of 1832, and in which the Northern States have, by the same 
act, secured a monopoly : the only difference is in the means. In the former, 
the colonies were permitted to have a free trade with all countries south of 
Cape Finisterre, a cape in the northern part of Spain ; while north of that 
the trade of the colonies was prohibited, except through the mother-country, by 
means of her commercial regulations. If we compare the products of the coun- 
try north and south of Cape Finisterre, we shall find them almost identical with 
the list of the protected and unprotected articles contained in the act of last 
year. Nor does the analogy terminate here. The very arguments resorted 
to at the commencement of the American Revolution, and the measures adopt- 
ed, and the motives assigned to bring on that contest (to enforce the law), are 
almost identically the same. 

But to return from this digression to the consideration of the bill. Whatever 
diflference of opinion may exist upon other points, there is one on which I should 
suppose there can be none : that this bill rests on principles which, if carried 
out, will ride over state sovereignties, and that it will be idle for any of its ad- 
vocates hereafter to talk of state rights. The senator from Virginia (Mr. Rives) 
says that he is the advocate of state rights ; but he must permit me to tell him 
that, although he may differ in premises from the other gentlemen with whom 
he acts on this occasion, yet in supporting this bill he obliterates every vestige 

Ul UlOUlHyHUIl UC-l 

of '98, his example will be more pernicious than that of the most open and bit- 
ter opponents of the rights of the states. I will also add, what I am compelled 
to say, that 1 must consider him (Mr. Rives) as less consistent than our old 
oppoiients, whose conclusions were fairly drawn from their premises, while 
his premises ought to have led him to opposite conclusions. The gentleman , 
has told us that the new-fangled doctrines, as he chooses to call them, have ' 
brought state rights into disrepute. I must tell him, in reply, that what he calls 
new-fangled are but the doctrines of '98 ; and that it is he (Mr. Rives), and 
others with him, who, professing these doctrines, have degraded them by ex- 
plaining away their meaning and efficacy. He (Mr. R.)has disclaimed, in be- 
half of Virginia, the authorship of nullification. I will not dispute that point, j 
If Virginia chooses to throw away one of her brightest ornaments, she must 
not hereafter complain that it has become the property of another. But while 
I have, as a representative of Carolina, no right to complain of the disavowal 
of the senator from Virginia, I must believe that he (Mr. R.) has done his na- 
tive state great injustice by declaring on this floor that, when she gravely re- 
solved, in '98, that, " in cases of deliberate and dangerous infractions of the Con- 
stitution, the states, as parties to the compact, have the right, and are in duty 
bound, to interpose to arrest the progress of the evil, and to maintain within their 
respective limits the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them," she 
meant no more than to ordain the right to protest and to remonstrate. To sup- 
pose that, in putting forth so solemn a declaration, which she afterward sustain- 
ed by so able and elaborate an argument, she meant no more than to assert what 
no one had ever denied, would be to suppose that the state had been guilty of 
the most egregious trifling that ever was exhibited on so solemn an occasion. 

In reviewing the ground over which I have passed, it will be apparent that 
the question in controversy involves that most deeply important of all political 
questions, whether ours is a federal or a consolidated government : a question, 
on the decision of which depend, as I solemnly believe, the liberty of the peo- 
ple, their happiness, and the place which we are destined to hold in the moral 
and intellectual scale of nations. Never was there a controversy in which 
more important consequences were involved : not excepting that between Per- 
sia and Greece, decided by the battles of Marathon, Platea, and Salamis ; 
which gave ascendency to the genius of Europe over that of Asia ; and which, 
in its consequences, has continued to affect the destiny of so large a portion of 
the world even to this day. There is often close analogies between events ap- 
parently very remote, which are strikingly illustrated in this case. In the great 
contest between Greece and Persia, between European and Asiatic polity and 
civilization, the very question between the federal and consolidated form of gov- 
ernment was involved. The Asiatic governments, from the remotest time, with 
some exceptions on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, have been based 
on the principle of consolidation, which considers the whole community as but 
a unit, and consolidates its powers in a central point. The opposite principle 
has prevailed in Europe — Greece, throughout all her states, was based on a 
federal system. All were united in one common, but loose bond, and the gov- 
ernments of the several states partook, for the most part, of a complex organi- 
zation, whiclt distributed political power among diflerent members of the com- 
munity. The same principles prevailed in ancient Italy ; and, if we turn to the 
Teutonic race, our great ancestors — the race which occupies the first place in 
power, civilization, and science, and which possesses the largest and the fairest 
part of Europe — we shall find that their governments were based on the federal 
organization, as has been clearly illustrated by a recent and able writer on the 
British Constitution (Mr. Palgrave), from whose writings I introduce the follow- 
ing extract : 

" In this manner the first establishment of the Teutonic States was effected. 

nosts ana armies, lea on oy pruices, magistrates, ana cnieitains ; each ot whom 
was originally independent, and each of whom lost a portion of his pristine in- 
dependence in proportion as he and his compeers became united urtder the su- 
premacy of a sovereign, who was superinduced upon the state, first as a milita- 
ry commander, and afterward as a king. Yet, notwithstanding this political con- 
nexion, each member of the state continued to retain a considerable portion of 
the rights of sovereignty. Every ancient Teutonic monarchy must be consid- 
ered as a federation : it is not a unit, of which the smaller bodies politic there- 
in contained are the fractions, but they are the integers, and the state is the 
multiple which results from them. Dukedoms and counties, burghs and baron- 
ies, towns and townships, and shires, form the kingdom ; all, in a certain de- 
gree, strangers to each other, and separate in jurisdiction, though all obedient 
to the supreme executive authority. This general description, though not al- 
ways strictly applicable in terms, is always so substantially and in effect ; and 
he^ce it becomes necessary to discard the language which has been very <Ten- 
erally employed in treating on the English Constitution. It has been supposed 
that the kingdom was reduced into a regular and gradual subordination of gov- 
ernment, and that the various legal districts of which it is composed arose from 
the divisions and subdivisions of the country. But this hypothesis, which tends 
greatly to perplex our history, cannot be supported by fact ; and instead of view- 
ing the Constitution as a whole, and then proceeding to its parts, we must ex- 
amine it synthetically, and assume that the supreme authorities of the state 
were created by the concentration of the powers originally belonging to the 
members and corporations of which it is composed." [Here Mr. C. gave way 
for a motion to adjourn.] 

On the next day Mr. Calhoun said, I have omitted at the proper place, in the 
course of my observations yesterday, two or three points, to which I will now 
advert, before I resume the discussion where I left off. I have stated that the 
ordinance and acts of South Carolina were directed, not against the revenue, 
but against the system of protection. But it may be asked, If such was her 
object, how happens it that she has declared the whole system void — revenue 
as well as protection, without discrimination 1 It is this question which I pro- 
pose to answer- Her justification will be found in the necessity of the case ; 
and if there be any blame, it cannot attach to her. The two are so blended, 
throughout the whole, as to make the entire revenue system subordinate to the 
protective, so as to constitute a complete system of protection, in which it is 
impossible to discriminate the two elements of which it is composed. South 
Carolina, at least, could not make the discrimination, and she was reduced to the 
alternative of acquiescing in a system which she believed to be unconstitution- 
al, and which she felt to be oppressive and ruinous, or to consider the whole 
as one, equally contaminated through all its parts, by the unconstitutionality of 
the protective portion, and, as such, to be resisted by the act of the state. I 
maintain that the state has a right to regard it in the latter character, and that, 
if a loss of revenue follow, the fault is not hers, but of this government, which 
has improperly blended together, in a manner not to be separated by the state, 
two systems wholly dissimilar. If the sincerity of the state be doubted ; if it 
be supposed that her action is against revenue as well as protection, let the two 
be separated : let so much of the duties as are intended for revenue be put in 
one bill, and the residue intended for protection be put in another, and I pledge 
myself that the ordinance and the acts of the state will cease as to the former, 
and be directed exclusively against the latter. 

I also stated, in the course of my remarks yesterday, and I trust I have con- 
clusively shown, that the act of 1816, with the exception of a single item, to 
which I have alluded, was, in reality, a revenue measure, and that Carolina and 
the other states, in supporting it, have not incurred the slighted responsibility 

in relation to the system ot protection wnicn nas since grown up, ana wmcii 
now so deeply distracts the country. Sir, I am willing, as one of the repre- 
sentatives of Carolina, and I believe I speak the sentiment of the state, to take 
that act as the basis of a permanent adjustment of the tariff, simply reducing the 
duties, in an average proportion, on all the items to the revenue point. I make 
that offer now to the advocates of the protective system ; but I must, in candour, 
inform them that such an adjustment would distribute the revenue between the 
protected and unprotected articles more favourably to the state, and to the South, 
and less so to the manufacturing interest, than an average uniform ad valorem, 
and, accordingly, more so than that now proposed by Carolina through her con- 
vention. After such an offer, no man Avho values his candour will dare accuse 
the state, or those who have represented her here, with inconsistency in refer- 
ence to the point under consideration. 

I omitted, also, on yesterday, to notice a remark of the senator from Virginia 
(Mr. Rives), that the only difficulty in adjusting the tariff grew out of the ordi- 
nance and the acts of South Carolina. I must attribute an assertion so incon- 
sistent wath the facts to an ignorance of the occurrences of the last few years 
in reference to this subject, occasioned by the absence of the gentleman from 
the United States, to which he himself has alluded in his remarks. If the sen- 
ator will take pains to inform himself, he will find that this protective system 
advanced with a continued and rapid step, in spite of petitions, remonstrances, 
and protests, of not only Carolina, but also of Virginia and of all the Southern 
States, until 1828, when Carolina, for the first time, changed the character of 
her resistance, by holding up her reserved rights as the shield of her defence 
against farther encroachment. This attitude alone, unaided by a single state, 
arrested the farther progress of the system, so that the question from that pe- 
riod to this, on the part of the manufacturers, has been, not how to acquire 
more, but to retain that which they have acquired. I will inform the gentle- 
man that, if this attitude had not been taken on the part of the state, the ques- 
tion Avould not now be how duties ought to be repealed, but a question, as to 
the protected articles, between prohibition on one side and the duties establish- 
ed by the act of 1828 on the other. But a single remark will be sufficient in 
reply to what I must consider the invidious remark of the senator from Virgin- 
ia (xMr. Rives). The act of 1832, which has not yet gone into operation, and 
which was passed but a few months since, was declared by the supporters of 
the system to be a permanent adjustment, and the bill proposed by the Treasury 
Department, not essentially different from the act itself, was in like manner de- 
clared to be intended by the administration as a permanent arrangement. 
What has occurred since, except this ordinance, and these abused acts of the 
calumniated state, to produce this mighty revolution in reference to this odious 
system ? Unless the senator from Virginia can assign some other cause, he is 
bound, upon every principle of fairness, to retract this unjust aspersion upon the 
acts of South Carolina. 

The senator from Delaware (Mr. Clayton), as well as others, has relied with 
great emphasis on the fact that we are citizens of the United States. I do not 
object to the expression, nor shall I detract from the proud and elevated feel- 
ings with which it is associated ; but I trust that I may be permitted to raise the 
inquiry. In what manner are we citizens of the United States 1 without weak- 
ening the patriotic feeling with which, I trust, it will ever be uttered. If by cit- 
izen of the United States he means a citizen at large, one whose citizenship 
extends to the entire geographical limits of the country, without having a local 
citizenship in some state or territory, a sort of citizen of the world, all I have 
to say is, that such a citizen would be a perfect nondescript ; that not a single 
individual of this description can be found in the entire mass of our population. 
Notwithstanding all the pomp and display of eloquence on the occasion, every 
citizen is a citizen of some state or territory, and, as such, vmder an express pro- 

in the several states : and it is in this,*and in no other sense, that we are citizens 
of the United States. The senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dallas), indeed, re- 
lies upon that provision in the Constitution which gives Congress the power 
to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and the operation of the rule actu- 
ally established under this authority, to prove that naturalized citizens are citi- 
zens at large, without being citizens of any of the states. I do not deem it ne- 
cessary to examine the law of Congress upon this subject, or to reply to the ar- 
gument of the senator, though I cannot doubt that he (Mr. D.) has taken an en- 
tirely erroneous view of the subject. It is sufficient that the power of Congress 
extends simply to the establishment of a uniform rule by which foreigners may 
be naturalized in the several states or territories, without infringing in any other 
respect, in reference to naturalization, the rights of the states as they existed 
before the adoption of the Constitution. 

Having supplied the omissions of yesterday, I now resume the subject at the 
point where my remarks then terminated. The Senate will remember that 
I stated, at their close, that the great question at issue is, whether ours is a 
federal or a consolidated system of government ; a system in which the parts, 
to use the emphatic language of Mr. Palgrave, are the integers, and the whole 
the multiple, or in which the whole is a unit and the parts the fractions ; that I 
stated, that on the decision of this question, I believe, depend not only the lib- 
erty and prosperity of this country, but the place which we are destined to hold 
in the intellectual and moral scale of nations. I stated, also, in my remarks on 
this point, that there is a striking analogy between this and the great struggle 
between Persia and Greece, which was decided by the battles of Marathon, 
Platea, and Salamis, and which immortalized the names of Miltiades and The- 
mistocles. I illustrated this analogy by showing that centralism or consolida- 
tion, with the exception of a few nations along the eastern border of the Medi- 
terranean, has been the pervading principle in the Asiatic governments, while 
the federal system, or, what is the same in principle, that system which organ- 
izes a community in reference to its parts, has prevailed in Europe. 

Among the few exceptions in the Asiatic nations, the government of the 
twelve tribes of Israel, in its early period, is the most striking. Their govern- 
ment, at first, was a mere confederation without any central power, till a mil- 
itary chieftain, with the title of king, was placed at its head, without, however, 
merging the original organization of the twelve distinct tribes. This was the 
commencement of that central action among that peculiar people which, in 
three generations, terminated in a permanent division of their tribes. It is im- 
possible even for a careless reader to peruse the history of that event without 
being forcibly struck with the analogy in the causes which led to their separa- 
tion, and those which now threaten us with a similar calamity. With the es- 
tablishment of the central power in the king commenced a system of taxation, 
which, under King Solomon, was greatly increased to defray the expense of 
rearing the temple, of enlarging and embellishing Jerusalem, the seat of the 
central government, and the other profuse expenditures of his magnificent reign. 
Increased taxation was followed by its natural consequences — discontent and 
complaint ; which before his death began to excite resistance. On the succes- 
sion of his son, Rehoboam, the ten tribes, headed by Jeroboam, demanded a re- 
duction of the taxes ; the temple being finished, and the embellishment of Jeru- 
salem completed, and the money which had been raised for that purpose being 
no longer required, or, in other words, the debt being paid, they demanded a 
reduction of the duties — a repeal of the tariff. The demand was taken under 
consideration, and after consulting the old men, the counsellors of '98, Avho ad- 
vised a reduction, he then took the opinion of the younger politicians, who had 
since grown up, and knew not the doctrines of their fathers ; he hearkened unto 
their counsel, and refused to make the reduction, and the secession of the ten 


iriDes iiiiacr jcruDUciiii luiiuwcu. ^^-^^ ^^^^^^ ^^ ^1.^^**1 ^^..^ x^v.,.ju,.x,x.., T.^i.^x. 
had received the disbursements, alone rerhained to the house of David. 

But to return to the point immediately under consideration. I know that it 
is not only the opinion of a large majority of our country, but it may be said to 
be the opinion of the age, that the very beau ideal of a perfect government is 
the o-overnment of a majority, acting through a representative body, without, 
check or limitation in its power ; yet, if we may test this theory by experience 
and reason, we shall find that, so far from being perfect, the necessary tenden- 
cy of all governments, based upon the will of an absolute majority, without con- 
stitutional check or limitation of power, is to faction, corruption, anarchy, and 
despotism ; and this, whether the will of the majority be expressed directly 
through an assembly of the people themselves, or by their representatives. I 
know that, in venturing this assertion, I utter that which is unpopular both 
■within and without these walls ; but where truth and liberty are concerned, 
such considerations should not be regarded. I will place the decision of this 
point on the fact that no government of the kind, among the many attempts 
which have been made, has ever endured for a single generation, but, on the 
contrary, has invariably experienced the fate which I have assigned to it. Let 
a single instance be pointed out, and I will surrender my opinion. But, if we 
had not the aid of experience to direct our judgment, reason itself would be a 
certain guide. The view which considers the community as a unit, and all its 
parts as having a similar interest, is radically erroneous. However small the 
community may be, and however homogeneous its interests, the moment that 
government is put into operation, as soon as it begins to collect taxes and to 
make appropriations, the different portions of the community must, of necessity, 
bear different and opposing relations in reference to the action of the govern- 
ment. There must inevitably spring up two interests — a direction and a stock- 
holder interest — an interest profiting by the action of the government, and in- 
terested in increasing its powers and action ; and another, at whose expense 
the political machine is kept in motion. I know how difficult it is to commu- 
nicate distinct ideas on such a subject, through the medium of general proposi- 
tions, without particular illustration ; and in order that I may be distinctly un- 
derstood, though at the hazard of being tedious, I will illustrate the important 
principle which I have ventured to advance by examples. 

Let us, then, suppose a small community of five persons, separated from the 
rest of the world ; and, to make the example strong, let us suppose them all to be 
engaged in the same pursuit, and to be of equal wealth. Let us farther sup- 
pose that they determine to govern the community by the will of a majority ; 
and, to make the case as strong as possible, let us suppose that the majority, in 
order to meet the expenses of the government, lay an equal tax, say of $100, on 
each individual of this little community. Their treasury would contain five 
hundred dollars. Three are a majority; and they, by supposition, have con- 
tributed three hvmdred as their portion, and the other two (the minority), 
two hundred. The three have the right to make the appropriations as they 
may think proper. The question is. How would the principle of the abso- 
hite and unchecked majority operate, under these circumstances, in this Ihtle 
community? If the three be governed by a sense of justice — if they should 
appropriate the money to the objects for which it was raised, the common and 
equal benefit of the five, then the object of the association would l)e fairly and 
honestly effected, and each Avould have a common interest in the government. 
But, should the majority pursue an opposite course — should they appropriate the 
money in a manner to benefit their own particular interest, without regard to 
the interest of the two (and that they will so act, unless there be some effi- 
cient check, he who best knows human nature will least doubt), who does not 
see that the three and the two would have directly opposite interests in refer- 
ence to the action of the government ? The three who contribute to the com- 

iiunarea lu men uwii uoc, (^unvcn, mc auiiuu ui iiie guvt:iiiiiit;iu imo iiie means 
of making money, and, of consequence, would have a direct interest in increas- 
ing the taxes. They put in three hundred and take out five : that is, they take 
back to themselves all that they had put in, and, in addition, that which was 
put in by their associates ; or, in other words, taking taxation and appropriation 
together, they have gained, and their associates have lost, two hundred dollars 
by the fiscal action of the government. Opposite interests, in reference to the 
action of the government, are thus created between them : the one having an 
interest in favour, and the other against the taxes ; the one to increase, and the 
other to decrease the taxes ; the one to retain the taxes when the money is no 
longer wanted, and the other to repeal them ^hen the objects for which they 
were levied have been executed. 

Let us now suppose this community of five to be raised to twenty-four indi- 
viduals, to be governed, in like manner, by the will of a majority : it is obvious 
that the same principle would divide them into two interests — into a majority 
and a minority, thirteen against eleven, or in some other proportion ; and that 
all the consequences which I have shown to be applicable to the small com- 
munity of five would be equally applicable to the greater, the cause not de- 
pending upon the number, but resulting necessarily from the action of the gov- 
ernment itself. Let us now suppose that, instead of governing themselves di- 
rectly in an assembly of the whole, without the intervention of agents, they 
should adopt the representative principle, and that, instead of being governed 
by a majority of themselves, they should be governed by a majority of their 
representatives. It is obvious that the operation of the system would not be 
affected by the change : the representatives being responsible to those who 
choose them, would conform to the will of their constituents, and would act as 
they would do were they present and acting for themselves ; and the same con- 
flict of interest, which we have shown would exist in one case, would equally 
exist in the other. In either case, the inevitable result would be a system of 
hostile legislation on the part of the majority, or the stronger interest, against the 
minority, or the weaker interest : the object of which, on the part of the former, 
would be to exact as much as possible from the latter, which would necessarily 
be resisted by all the means in their power. Warfare, by legislation, would 
thus be commenced between the parties, with the same object, and not less 
hostile than that which is carried on between distinct and rival nations — the 
only distinction would be in the instruments and the mode. Enactments, in the 
one case, would supply what could only be effected by arms in the other ; and 
the inevitable operation would be to engender the most hostile feelings between 
the parties, which would merge every feeling of patriotism — that feeling which 
embraces the whole, and substitute in its place the most violent party attach- 
ment ; and, instead of having one common centre of attachment, around which 
the affections of the community might rally, there would, in fact, be two — the 
interests of the majority, to which those who constitute that majority would be 
more attached than they would be to the whole, and that of the minority, to 
which they, in like manner, would also be more attached than to the interests of 
the whole. Faction would thus take the place of patriotism ; and, with the loss 
of patriotism, corruption must necessarily follow, and in its train, anarchy, and, 
finally, despotism, or the establishment of absolute power in a single individual, 
as a means of arresting the conflict of hostile interests : on the principle that 
it is better to submit to the will of a single individual, who, by being made lord 
and master of the whole community, would have an equal interest in the pro- 
tection of all the parts. 

Let us next suppose that, in order to avert the calamitous train of consequen- 
ces, this little community should adopt a written constitution, with limitations 
restricting the will of the majority, in order to protect the minority against the 

tions. It is obvious that the case would not be in the slightest degree varied, 
if the majority be left in possession of the right of judging exclusively of the 
extent of its powers, without any right on the part of the minority to enforce 
the restrictions imposed by the Constitution on the will of the majority. The 
point is almost too clear for illustration. Nothing can be more certain than 
that when a constitution grants power, and imposes limitations on the exercise 
of that power, whatever interests may obtain possession of the government, Avill 
be in favour of extending the power at the expense of the limitation ; and that, 
unless those in whose behalf the limitations were imposed have, in some form 
or mode, the right of enforcing them, the power will ultimately supersede the 
limitation, and the government must operate precisely in the same manner as 
if the will of the majority governed without constitution or limitation of power. 

I have thus presented all possible modes in which a government founded 
upon the will of an absolute majority will be modified, and have demonstrated 
that, in all its forms, whether in a majority of the people, as in a mere Democ- 
racy, or in a majority of their representatives, without a constitution or with a 
constitution, to be interpreted as the will of the majority, the result will be the 
same : two hostile interests will inevitably be created by the action of the gov- 
ernment, to be followed by hostile legislation, and that by faction, corruption, 
anarchy, and despotism. 

The great and solemn question here presents itself. Is there any remedy for 
these evils ? on the decision of which depends the question, whether the people 
can govern themselves, which has been so often asked with so much skepticism 
and doubt. There is a remedy, and but one, the effects of which, whatever 
may be the form, is to organize society in reference to this conflict of interests, 
which springs out of the action of government ; and which can only be done by 
giving to each part the right of self-protection ; which, in a word, instead of con- 
sidering the community of twenty-four a single community, having a common 
interest, and to be governed by the single will of an entire majority, shall, upon 
all questions tending to bring the parts into conflict, the thirteen against the 
eleven, take the will, not of the twenty-four as a unit, but that of the thirteen 
and that of the eleven separately, the majority of each governing the parts, and 
where they concur, governing the whole, and where they disagree, arresting 
the action of the government. This I will call the concurring, as distinct from 
the absolute majority. It would not be, as was generally supposed, a minority 
governing a majority. In either way the number would be the same, whether 
taken as the absolute or as the concurring majority. Thus, the majority of the 
thirteen is seven, and of the eleven six ; and the two together make thirteen, which 
is the majority of twenty-four. But, though the number is the same, the mode of 
counting is essentially diflerent : the one representing the strongest interest, 
and the other, the entire interests of the community. The first mistake is, in 
supposing that the government of the absolute majority is the government of this 
people — that beau ideal of a perfect government which has been so enthusias- 
tically entertained in every age by the generous and patriotic, where civiliza- 
tion and lil)erty have made the smallest progress. There can be no greater er- 
ror : the government of the people is the government of the whole community 
— of the twenty-four — the self-government of all the parts — too perfect to be re- 
duced to practice in the present, or any past stage of human society. The gov- 
ernment of the absolute majority, instead of the government of the people, is 
but the government of the strongest interests, and, when not efficiently checked, 
is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised. Between this ideal 
perfection on one side and despotism on the other, none other can be devised 
but that which considers society in reference to its parts, as'diff'erently affected 
by the action of the government, and which takes the sense of each part sepa- 
rately, and thereby the sense of the whole, in the manner already illustrated. 

of which the community may be composed, and are just as applicable to one 
of thirteen millions, the number which composes ours, as of the small commu- 
nity of twenty-four, which I have supposed for the purpose of illustration ; and 
are not less applicable to the twenty-four states united in one community, than 
to the case of the twenty-four individuals. There is, indeed, a distinction be- 
tween a large and a small community, not affecting the principle, but the vio- 
lence of the action. In the former, the similarity of the interests of all the 
parts will limit the oppression from the hostile action of the parts, in a great 
degree, to the fiscal action of the government merely ; but in the large commu- 
nity, spreading over a country of great extent, and having a great diversity of 
interests, with different kinds of labour, capital, and production, the conflict and 
oppression will extend, not only to a monopoly of the appropriations on the 
part of the stronger interests, but will end in unequal taxes, and a general con- 
flict between the entire interests of conflicting sections, which, if not arrested 
by the most powerful checks, will terminate in the most oppressive tjnranny 
that can be conceived, or in the destruction of the community itself. 

If we turn our attention from these supposed cases, and direct it to our gov- 
ernment and its actual operation, we shall find a practical confirmation of the 
truth of what has been stated, not only of the oppressive operation of the sys- 
tem of an absolute majority, but also a striking and beautiful illustration, in the 
formation of our system, of the principle of the concurring majority, as distinct 
from the absolute, which I have asserted to be the only means of efficiently 
checking the abuse of power, and, of course, the only solid foundation of con- 
stitutional liberty. That our government, for many years, has been gradually 
verging to consolidation ; that the Constitution has grsidually become a dead let- 
ter ; and that all restrictions upon the power of government have been virtually 
removed, so as practically to convert the General Government into a govern- 
ment of an absolute majority, without check or limitation, cannot be denied by 
any one who has impartially observed its operation. 

It is not necessary to trace the commencement and gradual progress of the 
causes which have produced this change in our system : it is sufficient to state 
that the change has taken place within the last few years. What has been the 
result ? Precisely that which might have been anticipated : the growth of fac- 
tion, corruption, anarchy, and, if not despotism itself, its near approach, as wit- 
nessed in the provisions of this bill. And from what have these consequences 
sprung 1 We have been involved in no war ! We have been at peace with 
all the world. We have been visited with no national calamity. Our people 
have been advancing in general intelligence, and, I will add, as great and 
alarming as has been the advance of political corruption among the mercenary 
corps who look to government for support, the morals and virtue of the commu- 
nity at large have been advancing in improvement. What, I will again repeat, 
is the cause ? No other can be assigned but a departure from the fundamental 
principles of the Constitution, which has converted the government into the will 
of an absolute and irresponsible majority, and which, by the laws that must in- 
evitably govern in all such majorities, has placed in conflict the great inter- 
ests of the country : by a system of hostile legislation, by an oppressive and 
unequal imposition of taxes, by unequal and profuse appropriations, and by ren- 
dering the entire labour and capital of the weaker interest subordinate to the 

This is the cause, and these the fruits, which have converted the government 
into a mere instrument of taking money from one portion of the community to 
be given to another, and which has rallied around it a great, a powerful, and 
mercenary corps of office-holders, office-seekers, and expectants, destitute of 
principle and patriotism, and who have no standard of morals or politics but the 
will of the executive — the will of him who has the distribution of the loaves 

and the fishes. I hold it impossible lor any one to look at the theoretical illus- 
tration of the principle of the absolute majority in the cases which I have sup- 
posed, and not be struck with the practical illustration in the actual operation 
of our o-overnment. Under every circumstance, the absolute majority will ever 
have its American system (I mean nothing offensive to any senator) ; but the 
real meaning of the American system is, that system of plunder which the 
strongest interest has ever waged, and will ever wage, against the weaker, 
where the latter is not armed with some efficient and constitutional check to 
arrest its action. Nothing but such check on the part of the weaker interest 
can arrest it : mere constitutional limitations are wholly insufficient. Whatever 
interest obtains possession of the government will, from the nature of things, be 
in favour of the powers, and against the limitations imposed by the Constitution, 
and will resort to every device that can be imagined to remove those restraints. 
On the contrary, the opposite interest, that which I have designated as the 
stockholding interest, the tax-payers, those on whom the system operates, will 
resist the abuse of powers, and contend for the limitations. And it is on this 
point, then, that the contest between the delegated and the reserved powers will 
be waged ; but in this contest,, as the interests in possession of the govern- 
ment are organized and armed by all its powers and patronage, the opposite in- 
terest, if not in like manner organized and possessed of a power to protect them- 
selves under the provisions of the Constitution, will be as inevitably crushed as 
would be a band of unorganized militia when opposed by a veteran and train- 
ed corps of regulars. Let it never be forgotten that power can only be oppo- 
sed by power, organization by organization ; and on this theory stands our beau- 
tiful federal system of government. No free system was ever farther removed 
from the principle that the absolute majority, without check or limitation, ought 
to govern. To understand what our government is, we must look to the Con- 
stitution, which is the basis of the system. I do not intend to enter into any 
minute examination of the origin and the source of its powers : it is sufficient 
for my purpose to state, what I do fearlessly, that it derived its power from the 
people of the separate states, each ratifying by itself, each binding itself by its 
own separate majority, through its separate convention, the concurrence of the 
majorities of the several states forming the Constitution, thus taking the sense 
of the whole by that of the several parts, representing the various interests of 
the entire community. It was this concurring and perfect majority which form- 
ed the Constitution, and not that majority which would consider the American 
people as a single community, and which, instead of representing fairly and 
fully the interests of the whole, w^ould but represent, as has been stated, the in- 
terest of the stronger section. No candid man can dispute that I have given a 
correct description of the constitution-making power : that power which created 
and organized the government, which delegated to it, as a common agent, cer- 
tain powers, in trust for the common good of all the states, and which imposed 
strict limitation and checks against abuses and usurpations. In administer- 
ing the delegated powers, the Constitution provides, very properly, in order to 
give promptitude and efficiency, that the government shall be organized upon 
the principle of the absolute majority, or, rather, of two absolute majorities com- 
bined : a majority of the states considered as bodies politic, which prevails in 
this body ; and a majority of the people of the states, estimated in federal num- 
bers, in the other house of Congress. A combination of the two prevails in 
the choice of the President, and, of course, in the appointment of judges, they be- 
ing nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. It is thus that the 
concurring and the absolute majorities are combined in one complex system : 
the one in forming the Constitution, and the other in making and executing the 
laws ; thus beautifully blending the moderation, justice, and equity of the former, 
and more perfect majority, with the promptness and energy of the latter, but 
less perfect. 

ty is the great and essential point, on which the success of the system must 
depend : unless that ascendency can be preserved, the necessary consequence 
must be, that the laws will supersede the Constitution, and, finally, the will of 
the executive, by the influence of his patronage, will supersede the laws, indi- 
cations of which are already perceptible. This ascendency can only be pre- 
served through the action of the states as organized bodies, having their own 
separate governments, and possessed of the right, under the structure of our 
system, of judging of the extent of their separate powers, and of interposing 
their authority to arrest the enactments of the General Government within their 
respective limits. I will not enter at this time into the discussion of this im- 
portant point, as it has been ably and fully presented by the senator from Ken- 
tucky (Mr. Bibb), and others who preceded him in this debate on the same 
side, whose arguments not only remain unanswered, but are unanswerable. It 
is only by this power of interposition that the reserved rights of the states can 
be peacefully and efficiently protected against the encroachments of the Gener- 
al Government, that the limitations imposed upon its authority will be enforced, 
and its movements confined to the orbit allotted to it by the Constitution. 

It has, indeed, been said in debate, that this can be efiected by the or- 
ganization of the General Government itself, particularly by the action of this 
body, which represents the states, and that the states themselves must look to 
the General Government for the preservation of many of the most important of 
their reserved rights. I do not underrate the value to be attached to the organ- 
ic arrangement of the General Government, and the wise distribution of its pow- 
ers between the several departments, and, in particular, the structure and the 
important functions of this body ; but to suppose that the Senate, or any depart- 
ment of this government, was intended to be the only guardian of the reserved 
rights, is a great and fundamental mistake. The government, through all its 
departments, represents the delegated, and not the reserved powers ; and it is a 
violation of the fundamental principle of free institutions to suppose that any 
but the responsible representative of any interest can be its guardian. The 
distribution of the powers of the General Government, and its organization, 
were arranged to prevent the abuse of power in fulfilling the important trusts 
confided to it, and not, as preposterously supposed, to protect the reserved pow- 
ers, which are confided wholly to the guardianship of the several states. 

Against the view of our system which I have presented, and the right of the 
state to interpose, it is objected that it would lead to anarchy and dissolution. 
I consider the objection as without the slightest foundation, and that, so far from 
tending to weakness or disunion, it is the source of the highest power and of 
the strongest cement. Nor is its tendency in this respect difficult of explana- 
tion. The government of an absolute majority, unchecked by efficient consti- 
tutional restraint, though apparently strong, is, in reality, an exceedingly feeble 
government. That tendency to conflict between the parts, which I have shown 
to be inevitable in such governments, wastes the powers of the state in the 
hostile action of contending factions, which leaves very little more power than 
the excess of the strength of the majority over the minority. But a government 
based upon the principle of the concurring majority, where each great interest 
possesses within itself the means of self-protection, which ultimately requires 
the mutual consent of all the parts, necessarily causes that unanimity in coun- 
cil, and ardent attachment of all the parts to the whole, which give an irresist- 
ible energy to a government so constituted. I might appeal to history for the 
truth of these remarks, of which the Roman furnishes the most familiar and 
striking. It is a well-known fact, that, from the expulsion of the Tarquins to 
the time of the establishment of the tribunitian power, the government fell into 
a state of the greatest disorder and distraction, and, I may add, corruption. 
How did this happen ? The explanation will throw important light on the sub- 

iect under consideration, ine comiiiuniLy vvas uiviueu iiiiu iwu paus — lue 
Patricians and the Plebeians : «ith the power of the state principally in the 
hands of the former without adequate check to protect the rights of the latter. 
The result was as ini""ht be expected. The patricians converted the powers of 
the government into the means of making money, to enrich themselves and their 
dependants. They, in a word, had their American system, growing out of the 
peculiar character of the government and condition of the country. This re- 
quires explanation. At that period, according to the laws of nations, when one 
nation conquered another, the lands of the vanquished belonged to the victors ; 
and. according to the Roman law, the lands thus acquired were divided into two 
parts, one allotted to the poorer class of the people, and the other assigned to 
the use of the treasury, of which the patricians had the distribution and admin- 
istration. The patricians abused their power by withholding from the plebeians 
that which ought to have been allotted to them, and by converting to their own 
use that which ought to have gone to the treasury. In a word, they took to 
themselves the entire spoils of victory, and they had thus the most powerful 
motive to keep the state perpetually involved in war, to the utter impoverish- 
ment and oppression of the plebeians. After resisting the abuse of power by 
all peaceable means, and the oppression becoming intolerable, the plebeians, at 
last, withdrew from the city — they, in a word, seceded ; and, to induce them to 
reunite, the patricians conceded to the plebeians, as the means of protecting 
their separate interests, the very power which I contend is necessary to protect 
the rights of the states, but which is now represented as necessarily leading to 
disunion. They granted to them the right of choosing three tribunes from 
among themselves, whose persons should be sacred, and who should have the 
right of interposing their veto, not only against the passage of laws, but even 
against their execution : a power which those who take a shallow insight into 
human nature would pronounce inconsistent with the strength and unity of the 
state, if not utterly impracticable ; yet, so far from that being the effect, from 
that day the genius of Rome became ascendant, and victory followed her steps 
till she had established an almost universal dominion. How can a result so 
contrary to all anticipation be explained ? The explanation appears to me to 
be simple. No measure or movement could be adopted without the concurring 
assent of both the patricians and plebeians, and each thus became dependant 
on the other ; and, of consequence, the desire and objects of neither could be 
effected without the concurrence of the other. To obtain this concurrence, 
each Avas compelled to consult the good-will of the other, and to elevate to 
office, not simply those who might have the confidence of the order to which 
he belonged, but also that of the other. The result was, that men possessing 
those qualities which would naturally command confidence — moderation, wis- 
dom, justice, and patriotism — were elevated to office ; and these, by the weight 
of their authority and the prudence of their counsel, together with that spirit of 
unanimity necessarily resulting from the concurring assent of the two orders, 
furnishes the real explanation of the power of the Roman State, and of that ex- 
traordinary wisdom, moderation, and firmness which in so remarkable a degree 
characterized her public men. I might illustrate the truth of the position which 
I have laid down by a reference to the history of all free states, ancient and 
modern, distinguished for their power and patriotism, and conclusively show, 
not only that there was not one which had not some contrivance, under 
form, by Avhich the concurring assent of the different portions of the community 
■was made necessary in the action of government, but also that the virtue, 
patriotism, and strength of the state were in direct proportion to the perfection 
of the means of securing such assent. In estimating the operation of this prin- 
ciple in our system, which depends, as I have stated, on the right of interposi- 
tion on the part of the state, we must not omit to take into consideration the 
amending power, by which new powers may be granted, or any derangement 

states, and thus, m the same degree, strengthening the power of repairing any 
derangement occasioned by the eccentric action of a state. In fact, the power 
of interposition, fairly understood, may be considered in the light of an appeal 
against the usurpations of the General Government, the joint agent of all the 
states, to the states themselves, to be decided under the amending power, 
affirmatively in favour of the government, by the voice of three fourths of the 
states, as the highest power known under the system. I know the difficulty, 
in our country, of establishing the truth of the principle for which I contend, 
though resting upon the clearest reason, and tested by the universal experience 
of free nations. I know that the governments of the several states will be cited 
as an argument against the conclusion to which I have arrived, and which, for 
the most part, are constructed on the principle of the absolute majority ; but, in 
my opinion, a satisfactory answer can be given : that the objects of expenditure 
•which fall within the sphere of a state government are few and inconsiderable, 
so that, be their action ever so irregular, it can occasion but little derangement. 
If, instead of being members of this great confederacy, they formed distinct 
communities, and were compelled to raise armies, and incur other expenses 
necessary to their defence, the laws which I have laid down as necessarily 
controlling the action of a state where the will of an absolute and unchecked 
majority prevailed, would speedily disclose themselves in faction, anarchy, and 
corruption. Even as the case is, the operation of the causes to which I have 
referred are perceptible in some of the larger and more populous members of 
the Union, whose governments have a powerful central action, and which al- 
ready show a strong tendency to that moneyed action which is the invariable 
forerunner of corruption and convulsions. 

But, to return to the General Government, we have now sufficient experi- 
ence to ascertain that the tendency to conflict in its action is between southern 
and other sections. The latter having a decided majority, must habitually be 
possessed of the powers of the government, both in this and in the other house ; 
and, being governed by that instinctive love of power so natural to the human 
breast, they must become the advocates of the power of government, and in the 
same degree opposed tc^fhe limitations ; while the other and weaker section is 
as necessarily throwTi on the side of the limitations. One section is the natural 
guardian of the delegated powers, and the other of the reserved ; and the strug- 
gle on the side of the former will be to enlarge the powers, while that on the 
opposite side ,>vill be to restrain them within their constitutional limits. The 
contest will, in fact, be a contest between power and liberty, and such I con- 
sider the present — ^a contest in which the weaker section, with its peculiar 
labour, productions, and institutions, has at stake all that can be dear to free- 
men. Should we be able to maintain in their full vigour our reserved rights, 
liberty and prosperity will be our portion ; but if we yield, and permit the 
stronger interest to concentrate within itself all the powers of the government, 
then will our fate be more wretched than that of the aborigines whom we have 
expelled. In this great struggle between the delegated and reserved powers, 
so far from repining that my lot, and that of those whom I represent, is cast on 
the side of the latter, I rejoice that such is the fact; for, though we participate 
in but few of the advantages of the government, we are compensated, and more 
than compensated, in not being so much exposed to its corruption. Nor do I 
repine that the diity, so difficult to be discharged, as the defence of the reserved 
powers, against apparently such fearful odds, has been assigned to us. To dis- 
charge successfully this high duty requires the highest qualities, moral and in- 
tellectual ; and should we perform it with a zeal and ability in proportion to 
its magnitude, instead of being mere planters, our section will become dis- 
tinguished for its patriots and statesmen. But, on the other hand, if we prove 
unworthy of this high destiny — if we yield to the steady encroachment of 


f al.mitv ind most debasing corruption wiu uvcrbpit-^^a .x.c 
power, the severest calannt> and mo ^ . ^. ^^ ^^^ faithful to 

Ld. Every Somheru man, true^ h ^n -s^^ ^^;^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ 

the duties -»-^P-:;t"of thfs g v^^«^ -^^ ^^ ^'^^^^^^'^ '^^ ^'"'^ 

X°"r tvT^SthemSv'es, by political prostitution, for admission into 

the Magdalen Asylum. 


''*' STER, FEBRUARY 26, lUSd. 

The following resolutions, submitted by Mr. Calho.n, came up for consider- 

^"-'Th"'^! \rl That the people of the several states composing these United 
''Resolved, inai tiie peupic i^ ,-, .• „^i „nmnart to which the people ot 

''Resolved, 1 hat tne peopie ui creatine a General Govern- 

.ional compact, in !-i;-^i^^ll;:::Z:ti^i^Zt^^i. delegated to that 

ment to carry into efiect the objects loijn ^^^ers to be exercised jointly, 
government, for that purpose, ^f^^^^^f"^^^P,"jSiduary mass of powers, lo 
reserving, at the same time, each sja^ ^^^^f ' td hat" ^^enever the General 
be exercised by its own ^^P^^^^.^g^J™" , 'i^oTdele^a^ by the compact, its 
Government assumes the exercise «f P« ^^^^;*^^/^ the said government is 
acts are unauthorized, void and of ^^ ei^eci jndihn^ tti^e ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ 

the mode aad measure of redress. ^-^.^^^ States, taken 

« Resolved, That the assertions that the peop e oi principle 

collectively as mdividuals are now, --e^hav^ - - ^^^^^^^^ V ^^^ P^^ 

of the social compact, and, as such, are "O"^^"^ ^ ^ j political exist- 

or that they have ever been so united, ^/^ ^ny one s age o t p ^^ 

ence; that the people of the several ^f^^f^^^.^JP^'^^ egiance of their citi- 
niembers thereof, retained their ^^'^'^'^fl^JZrml^^^^^^ they have parted 
zens has been transferred to the ^^^neral Govern^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

with the right of punishing treason through ^^ ^^^P^^^^^^^^^^ ,U, extent of 
and that they have not the "§1^* of judging m the ast resort ^^^ ^,^^^^^ 

powers reserA^ed, and, of consequence « ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ,,,d plain historical 
foundation in truth, but are contrary to the ^«f ^^^'^^^^.^cise of power on 
facts, and the clearest deductions ot ^^'^^^^ ^ J^f Jl^' " ^en^^^^ deriving author^ 
the liart of the General ^^vernment, or any of its dep^^^ 
ity from such erroneous assumptions, "^^^^^ f^^^'^;^^^^ of the states-to 
Just tend directly and inevitably '^^^^fjll^^^ro^Aihrnns a consolida- 
destroy the federal character of the U^^o"' an^H^o ^^^^ ^^_ 

ted aovernment, without constitutional check or Umimion, 
cessarily terminate in the loss of liberty itself. 

S'clut^rstti.. When the Wnwith^h^^^^^^^^^ 


the bill in strong language, but not stronger than the rules .which govern parlia- 
mentary proceedings permit ; nor stronger than the dfcafacter of the bill, and its 
bearing on the state which it is my honour to represent, justified. I am at a 
loss to understand what motive governed the senator in giving a personal char- 
acter to his remarks. IF he intended anything unkind — (here Mr. Webster. 
said, audibly, Certainly not ; and Mr. C. replied, I will not, then, say what I in- 
I tended, if such had been his motives) — but still I must be permitted to ask. If he 
I intended nothing unkind, what was the object of the senator ? Was his motive 
to strengthen a cause which he feels to be weak, by giving the discussion a per- 
sonal direction ? If such was his motive, his experience as a debater ought to 
have taught him that it was one of those weak devices which seldom fail to 
react on those who resort to them. If his motive was to acquire popularity 
by attacking one who had A'oluntarily, and from a sense of duty — from a deep 
conviction that liberty and the Constitution were at stake-T-7liaji4^gQ,tihed him- 
self with an unpopular question, I would say to him that a true sense of dignity 
would have impelled him in an opposite direction. Among the possible motives 
which might have influenced him, there is another to the imputation of which 
he is exposed, but which, certainly, I will not attribute to him — that his motive 
was to propitiate in a certain high quarter — a quarter in which he must know 
that no oflering could be more acceptable than the immolation of the character 
of him who now addresses you. But whatever may have been the motive of 
the senator, I can assure him that I will not follow his example. I never had 
any inclination to gladiatorial exhibitions in the halls of legislation, and if I now 
had, T certainly would not indulge them on so solemn a question :. a question 
which, in the opinion of the senator from MassachHsett&>. 9|^x pressed in debate, 
involves the union'of, these states, and in mine, the liberty and the CTonstTtiifion 
of the country. Before, however, I conclude the prefatory observations, I must 
allude to the remark which the senator made at the termination of the argmnent 
of my friend from Mississippi (Mr. P^indexter). I understood the senator 
to say that, if I chose to put at issue his character for consistency, he stood pre- 
pared to vindicate his course. I assure the senator that I have no idea of call- 
ing in question his consistency, or that of any other member of this body. It 
is a subject in which I feel no concern ; but if I am to understand the remark 
of the senator as intended indirectly as a challenge to put in issue the consist- 
ency of my course as compared to his own, I have to say that, though I do not 
accept of his challenge, yet, if he should think proper to make a trial of charac- 
ter on that or any other point connected with our public conduct, and will select 
a suitable occasion, I stand prepared to vindicate my course, as compared with 
his, or that of any other member of this body, for consistency of conduct, purity 
of motive, and devoted attachment to the country and its institutions. 

Having made these remarks, which have been forced -upon me, I shall now 
proceed directly to the subject before the Senate ; and in order that it may, with 
all its bearings, be fully understood, I must go back to the period at which I in- 
troduced the resolutions. They were introduced in connexion with the bill 
which has passed this house, and is now pending before the other. That bill 
was couched in general terras, without naming South Carolina or any other 
state, though it was understood, and avowed by the committee, as intended to 
act directly on her. 

Believing that the government had no right to use force in the controversy, 
and that the attempt to introduce it rested upon principles utterly subversive of the 
Constitution and the sovereignty of the states, I drew up the resolutions, and intro- 
duced theni expressly with the view to test those principles, with a desire that 
they should be discussed and voted on before the bill came up for consideration. 
The majority ordered otherwise. The resolutions were laid on the table, and 
the bill taken up for discussion. Under this arrangement, which it was under- 

stood orio-inated with the committee that reported the bill, I, of course, ccmcln- 
ded that Its members would proceed in the discussion, and explain the princi- 
ples and the necessity for the bill, before the other senators would enter into 
the discussion, and particularly those from South Carolina ; understanding, how- 
erer that by the arrangement of the committee, it was allotted to the senator 
from Tennessee to close the discussion on the bill, I waited to the last moment^ 
in expectation of hearing from the senator from Massachusetts. He is a mem- 
ber of the committee. But not hearing from him, I rose to speak to the bill, and 
as soon as I had concluded, the senator from Massachusetts arose — I will nol 
say to reply to me, and certainly not to discuss the bill, but the resolutions 
■which had been laid on the table, as I have stated. I do not state these facts 
in the way of complaint, but in order to explain my own course. The senator 
having directed his argument against my resolutions, I felt myself compelled to 
seize the first opportunity to call them up from the table, and to assign a day for 
their discussion, in the hope not only that the Senate would hear me in their 
vindication, but would also afford me an opportunity of taking the sense of this 
body on the great principles on which they are based. 

The senator from Massachusetts, in his argument against the resolutions, 
directed his attack almost exclusively against the first, on the ground, I suppose, 
that it was the basis of the other two, and that, unless the first could be demol- 
ished, the others would follow of course. In this he was right. As plain and 
as simple as the facts contained in the first are, they cannot be admitted to be 
true without admitting the doctrines for which I, and the state I represent, con- 
tend. He (Mr. W.) commenced his attack with a verbal criticism on the res- 
olution, in the course of which he objected strongly to two words, " constitu- 
tional," and " accede." To the former on the ground that the word^ as used 
(constitutional compact), was obscure — that it conveyed no definite meaning — 
and that the Constitution was a noun-substantive, and not an adjective. I re- 
gret that I have exposed myself to the criticism of the senator. I certainly 
did not intend to use any expression of a doubtful sense, and if I have done so, 
the senator must attribute it to the poverty of my language, and not to design. 
I trust, however, that the senator will excuse me, when he comes to hear my 
apology. In matters of criticism, authority is of the highest importance, and I 
have an authority of so high a character, in this case, for using the expression 
which he considers so obscure and so unconstitutional, as will justify me even 
in his eyes. • It is no less than the authority of the senator himself— given on 
a solemn occasion (the discussion on Mr. Foote's resolution), and doubtless 
with great deliberation, after having duly weighed the force of the expression. 
(Here Mr. C. read from Mr. Webster's speech in reply to Mr. Hayne, in the 
Senate of the United States, delivered January 26, 1830, as follows :) 

" The domestic slavery of the South I leave where I find it — in the hands of 
their own governments. It is their affair, not mine. Nor do I complain of 
the peculiar eflfect which the magnitude of that population has had in the dis- 
tribution of power imder the Federal Government. We know, sir, that the 
xeprcsentation of the states in the other house is not equal. We know that 
great advantage, in that respect, is enjoyed by the slaveholding states ; and we 
know, too, that the intended equivalent for that advantage, that is to_ say^ the 
imposition of direct taxes in the same ratio, has become merely nominal : the 
habit of the government being almost invariably to collect its revenues from 
other sources, and in other modes. Nevertheless, I do not complain^ nor 
would I countenance any movement to alter this arrangement of representation. 
It is the original bargain — the compact— let it stand ; let the advantage of it be 
fully enjoyed. The Union itself is too full of benefits to be hazarded in propo- 
sitions for changing its original basis. I go for the Constitution as it is, and 
for the Union as it is. But I am resolved not to submit in silence to accusa- 
tions, either against myself individually, or against the North, wholly unfound- 

STiTUTioNAL COMPACT, and to extend the power of the government over the 
internal laws and domestic condition of the states." 

It will be seen, by this extract, that the senator not only uses the phrase 
*' constitutional compact," v/hich he now so much condemns, but, what is still 
more important, he calls the Constitution itself a compact — a bargain ; which 
contains important admissions, having a direct and powerful bearing on the 
main issue involved in the discussion, as will appear in the course of his re- 
marks. But, as strong as his objection is to the word " constitutional," it is 
still stronger to the word " accede," which, he thinks, has been introduced into 
the resolution with some deep design, as I suppose, to entrap the Senate into 
an admission of the doctrine of state rights. Here, again, I must shelter 
myself under authority. But I suspect that the senator, by a sort of instinct 
(for our instincts often strangely run before our knowledge), had a prescience, 
which would account for his aversion for the word, that this authority was no less 
fhan Thomas Jefferson himself, the great apostle of the doctrines of state rights. 
The word was borrowed from him. It was taken from the Kentucky Resolu- 
tion, as well as the substance of the resolution itself. But I trust that I may 
neutralize whatever aversion the authorship of this word may have excited ia 
the mind of the senator, by the introduction of another authority — that of Wash- 
ington himself, who, in his speech, to Congress, speaking of the admission of 
North Carolina into the Union, uses this very term, which was repeated by the 
Senate in their reply. Yet, in order to narrow the ground between the sena- 
tor and myself as much as possible, I will accommodate myself to his strange 
antipathy against the two unfortunate words, by striking them out of the reso- 
lution, and substituting in their place those very words which the senator him- 
self has designated as constitutional phrases. In the place of that abhorred ad- 
jective " constitutional," I will insert the very noun-substantive " constitution ;" 
and in the place of the word *' accede," I will insert the word " ratify," which 
lie designates as the proper term to be used. 

Let us now see how the resolution stands, and how it will read after these 
amendments. Here Mr. C. said the resolution, as introduced, reads : 

Resolved, That the people of the several states composing these United States 
are united as parties to a constitutional compact, to which the people of each 
state acceded as a separate and sovereign community, each binding itself by its 
own particular ratification ; and that the Union, of which the said compact is 
a bond, is a union heluoeen the stales ratifying the same. 
As proposed to be amended : 

Resolved, That the people of the several states composing these United States 
are united as parties to a compact, under the title of the Constitution of the Uni- 
ted States, which the people of each state ratified as a separate and sovereign 
community, each binding itself by its own particular ratification ; and that the 
Union, of which the said compact is the bond, is a Union hetween the states 
ratifying the same. 

Where, sir, I ask, is that plain case of revolution ? Where that hiatus, as 
wide as the globe, between the premises and conclusion, which the senator pro- 
claimed would be apparent if the resolution was reduced into constitutional lan- 
guage ? For my part, with my poor powers of conception, I cannot perceive 
the slightest difference between the resolution as first introduced, and as it is 
proposed to be amended in conformity to the views of the senator. And, in- 
stead of that hiatus between premises and conclusion, which seems to startle 
the imagination of the senator, I can perceive nothing but a continuous and sol- 
id surface, sufficient to sustain the magnificent superstructure of state rights. 
Indeed, it seems to rae that the senator's vision is distorted by the medium 
through which he views everything connected with the subject ; and that the 
same distortion wliich has presented to his imagination this hiatus, as wide as 

the globe, where not even a hssiire exists, also presented that beaiitnul and clas- 
sical image of a strong man struggling in a bog without the power of extricating 
himself, and incapable of being aided by any friendly hand, Avhile, instead of 
struggling in a bog, he stands on the everlasting rock of truth. 

Having now noticed the criticism of the senator, I shall proceed to meet and 
repel the main assault on the resolution. He directed his attack against the 
strong point, the very horn of the citadel of state rights. The senator clearly [ 
perceived that, if the Constitution be a compact, it was impossible to deny the 
assertions contained in the resolutions, or to resist the consequences which I ! 
had drawn from them, and, accordingly, directed his whole fire against that point ; 
but, after so vast an expenditme of ammunition, not the slightest impression, so 
far as I can perceive, has been made. But, to drop the simile, after a careful i 
examination of the notes which I took of what the senator said, I am now at a ' 
loss to know whether, in the opinion of the senator, our Constitution is a com- 
pact or not, though the almost entire argument of the senator was directed to 
that point. At one time he would seem to deny directly and positively that it 
was a compact, while at another he would appear, in language not less strong, 
to admit that it was. 

1 have collated all that the senator has said upon this point ; and, that what 
I have stated may not appear exaggerated, I will read his remarks in juxtapo- 
sition. He said that 

" The Constitution means a government, not a compact. Not a constitution- 
al compact, but a government. If compact, it rests on plighted faith, and the 
mode of redress would be to declare the whole void. States may secede if a 
league or compact." 

1 thank the senator for these admissions, which I intend to use hereafter. 
(Here Mr. C. proceeded to read from his notes.) 

" The states agreed that each should participate in the sovereignty of the 

Certainly, a very correct conception of the Constitution ; but when did they 
make that agreement but by the Constitution, and how could they agree but by 
compact ? 

" The system, not a compact between states in their sovereig-n capacity, but 
a government proper, founded on the adoption of the people, and creating indi- 
Tidual relations between itself and the citizens." 

This the senator lays down as a leading fundamental principle to sustain his 
doctrine, and, I must say, by a strange confusion and uncertainty of language ; 
not, certainly, to be explained by any want of command of the most appropriate 
words on his part. 

" It does not call itself a compact, but a constitution. The Constitution rests 
on compact, but it is no longer a compact." 

I would ask, To what compact does the senator refer, as that on which the 
Constitution rests ? Before the adoption of the present Constitution, the states 
had formed but one compact, and that was the old confederation ; and, certain- 
ly, the gentleman does not intend to assert that the present Constitution rests 
upon that. What, then, is his mc-ining ? What can it be, but that the Con- ] 
stitution itself is a compact ? and how will his language read, when fairly in- 
terpreted, but that the Constitution was a compact, but is no longer a compact ? 
It had, by some means or another, changed its nature, or become defunct. 

He next states that 

" A man is almost untrue to his country who calls the Constitution a com- 

I fear the senator, in calling it a compact, a bargain, has called down this 
heavy denunciation on his own head. He finally states that 

" It is founded on compact, but not a compact results from it." 

To what are we to attribute the strange confusion of words 1 The senator 

guage. No man knows better the precise import of the words he uses. The 
difficulty is not in him, but in his subject. He who undertakes to prove that this 
Constitution is not a compact, undertakes a task which, be his strength ever 
so oreat, must oppress him by its weight. Taking the whole of the argument 
of the senator together, I would say that it is his impression that the Constitu- 
tion is not a compact, and will now proceed to consider the reason which he 
has assigned for this opinion. 

He thinks there is an incompatibility between constitution and compact. To 
prove this, he adduces the words " ordain and establish," contained in the pre- 
amble of the Constitution. I confess I am not capable of perceiving in what 
manner these words are incompatible with the idea that the Constitution is a 
compact. The senator will admit that a single state may ordain a constitution ; 
and where is the difficulty, where the incompatibility of two states concurring 
in ordaining and establishing a constitution 1 As between the states themselves, 
the instrument would be a compact ; but in reference to the government, and 
those on whom it operates, it would be ordained and established — ordained and 
established by the joint authority of two, instead of the single authority of one. 
The next argument which the senator advances to show that the language 
of the Constitution is irreconcilable with the idea of its being a compact, is ta- 
ken from that portion of the instrument which imposes prohibitions on the au- 
thority of the states. He said that the language used in imposing the prohibi- 
tions is the language of a superior to an inferior ; and that, therefore, it was not 
the language of a compact, which implies the equality of the parties. As a 
proof, the senator cited the several provisions of the Constitution which provide 
that no state shall enter into treaties of alliance and confederation, lay imposts, 
&c., without the assent of Congress. If he had turned to the articles of the 
old confederation, which he acknowledges to have been a compact, he would 
have found that those very prohibitory articles of the Constitution were borrow- 
ed from that instrument ; that the language which he now considers as imply- 
ing superiority was taken verbatim from it. If he had extended his researches 
still farther, he would have found that itas the habitual language used in treat- 
ies, whenever a stipulation is made against the performance of any act. Among 
many instances which I could cite if it were necessary, I refer the senator to 
the celebrated treaty negotiated by Mr. Jay with Great Britain in 1793, and in 
which the very language used in the Constitution is employed. 

To prove that the Constitution is not a compact, the senator next observes 
that it stipulates nothing, and asks, with an air of triumph, Where are the evi- 
dences of the stipulations between the states ? I must express my surprise at 
this interrogatory, coming from so intelligent a source. Has the senator never 
seen the ratification of the Constitution by the several states ? Did he not cite 
them on this very occasion ? Do they contain no evidence of this stipulation 
on the part of the states ? Nor is the assertion less strange that the Constitu- 
tion contains no stipulation. So far from regarding it in the light in which the 
senator regards it, I consider the whole instrument but a mass of stipulation : 
what is that but a stipulation to which the senator refers when he states, in the 
course of his argument, that each state had agreed to participate in the sover- 
eignty of the others 1 

But the principal argument on which the senator relied to show that the 
Constitution is not a compact, rests on the provision in that instrument which 
declares that " this Constitution, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, and 
treaties made under their authority, are the supreme laws of the land." He 
asked, with marked emphasis. Can a compact be the supreme law of the land ? 
I ask, in return, whether treaties are not compacts, and Avhether treaties, as well 
as the Constitution, are not declared to be the supreme law of the land ? His 
argument, in fact, as conclusively proves that treaties are not compacts as it 

does that this Constitution is not a compact. 1 might rest this point on this 
decisive answer ; but, as I desire to leave not a shadow of doubt on this impor- 
tant point, I shall folloW the gentleman in the course of his reasoning. 

He defines a constitution to be a fundamental law, which organizes the gov- 
ernment, and points out the mode of its action. I will not object to the defini- 
tion, though, in my opinion, a more appropriate one, or, at least, one better 
adapted to American ideas, could be given. My objection is not to the defini- 
tion, but to the attempt to prove that the fundamental laws of a state cannot be 
a compact, as the senator seems to suppose. I hold the very reveyse to be the 
case ; and that, according to the most approved writers on the subject of gov- 
ernment, these very fundamental laws which are now stated not only not to be 
compacts, but inconsistent with the very idea of compacts, are held invariably 
to be compacts ; and, in that character, as distinguished from the ordinary laws 
of the country. I will cite a single authority, which is full and explicit on this 
point, from a writer of the highest repute. 

Burlamaqui says, vol. ii., part 1, chap, i., sec. 35, 36, 37, 38 : " It entirely de- 
pends upon a free people to invest the sovereigns whom they place over their 
heads with an authority either absolute, or limited by certain laws. These 
regulations, by which the supreme authority is kept within bounds, are called the 
fundamental laws of the state." 

" The fundamental laws of a state, taken in their full extent, are not only the 
decrees by which the entire body of the nation detemiine the form of govern- 
ment, and the manner of succeeding to the crown, but are likewise covenants 
between the people and the person on whom they confer the sovereignty, which 
regulate the manner of governing, and by which the supreme authority is lim- 

" These regulations are called fundamental laws, because they are the basis, 
as it were, and foundation of the state on which the structure of the government 
is raised, and because the people look upon these regulations as their principal 
strength and support." 

" The name of laws, however, has been given to these regalatioms in an im- 
proper and figurative sense, for, properly speaking, they are real covenants. 
But as those covenants are obligatory between the contracting parties, they have 
the force of laws themselves." 

The same, vol. ii., part 2, ch. i., sec. 19 and 23, in part. " The whole body 
of the nation, in whom the supreme power originally resides, may regulate the 
government by a fundamental law in such manner as to commit the exercise 
of the difl'erent parts of the supreme power to different persons or bodies, who 
may act independently of each other in regard to the rights committed to them, 
but still subordinate to the laws from which those rights are derived." 

" And these fundamental laws are real covenants, or what the civilians call 
pacta conventa, between the diflferent orders of the Republic, by which they 
stipulate that each shall have a particular part of the sovereignty, and that this 
shall establish the form of government. It is evident that, by these means, each 
of the contracting parties acquires a right not only of exercising the power 
granted to it, but also of jyeserving that original right." 

A reference to the Constitution of Great Britain, with which wc are- better 
acquainted than with that of any other European government, will show that 
it is a compact. Magna Cliarta may certainly be reckoned among the funda- 
mental laws of that kingdom. Now, although it did not assume, originally, the 
form of a compact, yet, before the breaking up of the meeting of the barons 
which imposed it on King John, it was reduced into the form of a covenant, 
and duly signed by Robert Fitzwalter and others, on the one part, and the king 
on the other. 

But we have a more decisive proof that the Constitution of England is a com- 
pact in the resolution of the Lords and Commons in 1688, which declared that 

kingdom, by breaking the original contract between the king and people, and 
having, by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons, violated the fun- 
damental law, and withdrawn himself out of the kingdom, hath abdicated the 
government, and that the throne is thereby become vacant." 

But why should I refer to writers upon the subject of government, or inquire 
into the constitution of foreign states, when there are such decisive proofs that 
our Constitution is a compact ? On this point the senator is estopped. I bor- 
row from the gentleman, and thank him for the word. His adopted state, 
which he so ably represents on this floor, and his native state, the states of 
Massachusetts and New-Hampshire, both declared, in their ratification of the 
Constitution, that it was a compact. The ratification of Massachusetts is in the 
following words (here Mr. C. read) : 

" In Convention of the Delegates of the People of the Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts, Feb. 6, 1788. 

" The Convention having impartially discussed and fully considered the Con- 
stitution of the United States of America, reported to Congress by the Conven- 
tion of Delegates from the United States of America, and submitted to us by 
a resolution of the General Court of said Commonwealth, passed the 25th day 
of October last past, and acknowledgnig, with grateful hearts, the goodness of 
the Supreme Ruler of the universe, in affording the people of the United States, 
in the course of his providence, an opportunity deliberately and peaceably, 
without fraud or surprise, of entering into an explicit and solemn compact with 
each other, by assenting to and ratifying a new Constitution, in order to form a 
more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the 
common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of lib- 
erty to themselves and of Massachusetts, assent to and ratify the said Constitu- 
tion for the United States of America." 

The ratification of New-Hampshire is taken from that of Massachusetts, and 
almost in the same words. But proof, if possible, still more decisive, may be 
found in the celebrated resolutions of Virginia on the alien and sedition law, 
in 1798, and the responses of Massachusetts and the other states. Those 
resolutions expressly assert that the Constitution is a compact between the 
states, in the following language (here Mr. C. read from the resolutions of 
Virginia as follows) : 
■ " That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare that it views 


" That the General Assembly doth also express its deep regret that a spirit 
has, in sundry instances, been manifested by the Federal Government to en- 
large its powers by forced constructions of the constitutional charter, which de- 
fines them ; and that indications have appeared of a design to expound certain 
general phrases (which, having been copied from the very limited grant of powers 
in the former articles of confederation, were the less liable to be misconstrued), 
so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the particular enumeration which 
necessity explains, and limits the general phrases, and so as to consolidate 




They were sent to the several states. We have the reply of Delaware, 
New-York, Connecticut, New-Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, not 
one of which contradicts this important assertion on the part of Virginia ; and, 
by their silence, they all acquiesce in its truth. The case is still stronger 
against Massachusetts, which expressly recognises the fact that the Constitu- 
tion is a compact. 

In her answer she says (here Mr. C. read from the answer of INIassachusetts 
as follows) : " But they deem it their duty solemnly to declare that, while they 
hold sacred the principle, that consent of the people is the only pure source of 
just and legitimate power, they cannot admit the right of the state Legislatures 
to denounce the administration of that government, to which the people them- 
selves, by a solemn compact, have exclusively committed their national concerns. 
That, although a liberal and enlightened vigilance among the people is always 
to be cherished, yet an unreasonable jealousy of the men of their choice, and a 
recurrence to measures of extremity upon groundless or trivial pretexts, have a 
strong tendency to destroy all rational liberty at home, and to deprive the Uni- 
ted States of the most essential advantages in their relations abroad. That this 
Legislature are persuaded that the decision of all cases in law or equity, arising 
under the Constitution of the United States, and the construction of all laws 
made in pursuance thereof, are exclusively vested by the people in the judicial 
courts of the United States." 

" That the people, in that solemn compact, which is declared to be the supreme 
law of the land, have not constituted the state Legislatures the judges of the acts 
or measures of the Federal Government, but have confided to them the power of 
proposing such amendments of the Constitution as shall appear to them neces- 
sary to the interests, or conformable to the wishes, of the people whom they 

Now, I ask the senator himself— I put it to his candour to say, if South Car- 
olina be estopped on the subject of the protective system because Mr. Burke 
and Mr. Smith proposed a moderate duty on hemp, or some other article, I 
know not what, nor do I care, with a view of encouraging its production, of 
which motion, I venture to say, not one individual in a hundred in the state 
ever heard, whether he and Massachusetts, after this clear, full, and solemn 
recognition that the Constitution is a compact, both on his part and that of his 
state, be not forever estopped on this important point ? 

There remains one more of the senator's arguments to prove that the Con- 
stitution is not a compact, to be considered. He says it is not a compact, be- 
cause it is a government ; which he defines to be an organized body, possessed 
of the will and power to execute its purposes by its own proper authority ; and 
which, he says, bears not the slightest resemblance to a compact. But I would 
ask the senator, Who ever considered a government, when spoken of as the 
agent to execute the powers of the Constitution, as distinct from the Constitu- 
tion itself, as a compact ? 

In that light it would be a perfect absurdity. It is true that, in general and 
loose language, it is often said that the government is a compact, meaning the 
Constitution which created it, and vested it with authority to execute the powers 
contained in the instrument ; but when the distinction is drawn between the 
Constitution and the government, as the senator has done, it would be as ridic- 
ulous to call the government a compact as to call an individual, appointed to 
execute provisions of the contract, a contract ; and not less so to suppose that 
there could be the slightest resemblance between them. In connexion with 
this point the senator, to prove that the Constitution is not a compact, asserts 
that it is wholly independent of the state, and pointedly declares that the states 

Constitution that three fourths of the states have a right to alter, change, or 
amend, or even to abolish it, staring him in the face. 

I have examined all of the arguments of the senator intended to prove that 
the Constitution is not a compact ; and I trust I have shown, by the clearest 
demonstration, that his arguments are perfectly inconclusive, and that his as- 
sertion is against the clearest and most solemn evidence — evidence of record, 
and of such a character that it ought to close his lips forever. 

I turn now to consider the other, and, apparently, contradictory aspect in 
which the senator presented this part of the subject : I mean that one in which 
he states that the government is founded in compact, but is no longer a com- 
pact. I have already remarked, that no other interpretation could be given to 
this assertion, except that the Constitution was once a compact, but is no long- 
er so. There is a vagueness and indistinctness in this part of the senator's 
argument, which left me altogether uncertain as to its real meaning. If he 
meant, as I presume he did, that the compact is an executed, and not an execu- 
tory one — that its object was to create a government, and to invest it with 
proper authority — and that, having executed this office, it had performed its 
functions, and, with it, had ceased to exist, then we have the extraordinary 
avowal that the Constitution is a dead letter — that it has ceased to have any 
binding etlect, or any practical influence or operation. 

It had, indeed, often been charged that the Constitution had become a dead 
letter ; that it was continually violated, and had lost all its control over the 
government ; but no one had ever before been bold enough to advance a theory 
on the avowed basis that it was an executed, and, therefore, an extinct instru- 
ment. I will not seriously attempt to refute an argument which to me appears 
so extravagant. I had thought that the Constitution was to endiure forever; 
and that, so far from its being an executed contract, it contained great trust 
powers for the benefit of those who created it, and all future generations, which 
never could be finally executed during the existence of the world, if our gov- 
ernment should so long endure. 

I will now return to the first resolution, to see how the issue stands between 
the senator from Massachusetts and myself. It contains three propositions. 
First, that the Constitution is a compact ; second, that it was formed by the 
states, constituting distinct communities ; and, lastly, that it is a subsisting and 
binding compact between the states. How do these three propositions now 
stand ? The first, I trust, has been satisfactorily established ; the second, the 
senator- has admitted, faintly, indeed, but still he has admitted it to be true. 
This admission is something. It is so much gained by discussion. Three 
years ago even this was a contested point. But I cannot say that I thank hira 
for the admission : we owe it to the force of truth. The fact that these states 
were declared to be free and independent states at the time of their independ- 
ence ; that they were acknowledged to be so by Great Britain in the treaty 
which terminated the war of the Revolution, and secured their independence ; 
that they were recognised in the same character in the old articles of the con- 
federation ; and, finally, that the present Constitution was formed by a conven- [ 
tion of the several states, afterward submitted to them for their ratification, and 
was ratified by them separately, each for itself, and each, by its own act, bind- I 
ing its citizens, formed a body of facts too clear to be denied and too strong to 
be resisted. , 

It now remains to consider the third and last proposition contauied in the 
resolution — that it is a binding and a subsisting compact between the states. 
The senator was not explicit on this point. I understood him, however, as as- 
serting that, though formed by the states, the Constitution was not binding be- 
tween the states as distinct communities, but between the American people in 
the aggregate, who, in consequence of the adoption of the Constitution, accord- 

inw to tlie opinion ot tlie senator, oecaiue one peupiu, at leasi, lu lue baluiii ui 
the delei/ated powers. This would, indeed, be a great change. All ackuowl- 
edo-e that previous to the adoption of the Constitution, the states consthuted 
distinct and independent communities, in full possession of their sovereignty ; 
and surely, if the adoption of the Constitution was intended to effect the great 
and important change in their condition which the theory of the senator sup- 
poses, some evidence of it ought to be found in the instrument itself. It pro- 
fesses to be a careful and full enumeration of all the powers wliich the states 
delegated, and of every modification of their political condition. The senator 
said ttiat he looked to the Constitution in order to ascertain its real character; 
and, surely, he ought to look to the same instrument in order to ascertain what 
chan^^es were, in fact, made in the political condition of the states and the coun- 
try. But with the exception of " we, the people of the United States," in the 
preamble, he has not pointed out a single indication in the Constitution of the 
great change which he conceives has been effected in this respect. 

Now, sir, I intend to prove that the only argument on which the gentleman 
relies on this point must utterly fail him. I do not intend to go into a critical 
examination of the expression of the preamble to which I have referred. I do 
not deem it necessary ; but were it, it might be easily shown that it is at least 
as applicable to my view of the Constitution as to that of the senator ; and that 
the whole of his argument on this point rests on the ambiguity of the terra thir- 
teen United States ; which may mean certain territorial limits, comprehending 
within them the whole of the states and territories of the Union. In this sense 
the people of the United States may mean all the people living within these 
limits, without reference to the states or territories in which they may reside, 
or oi which they may be citizens, and it is in this sense only that the expres- 
sion gives the least countenance to the argument of the senator. 

But it may also mean the states united, which inversion alone, without farther 
explanation, removes the ambiguity to which I have referred. The expression, 
in this sense, obviously means no more than to speak of the people of the sev- 
eral states in their united and confederated capacity ; and, if it were requisite, 
it might be shown that it is only in this sense that the expression is used in the 
Constitution. But it is not necessary. A single argument will forever settle 
this point. Whatever may be the true meaning of this expression, it is not ap- 
plicable to the condition of the states as they exist under the Constitution, but 
as it was under the old confederation, before its adoption. The Constitution 
had not yet been adopted, and the states, in ordaining it, could only speak of 
themselves in the condition in which they then existed, and not in that in which 
they would exist under the Constitution. So that, if the argument of the sena- 
tor proves anything, it proves, not, as he supposes, that the Constitution forms 
the American people into an aggregate mass of individuals, but that such was 
their political condition before its adoption, under the old confederation, direct- 
ly contrary to his argument in the previous part of this discussion. 

But 1 intend not to leave this important point, the last refuge of those who 
advocate consolidation, even on this conclusive argument. I have shown that 
the Constitution affords not the least evidence of the mighty change of the po-r 
litical condition of the states and the country, which the senator supposed it 
effected ; and 1 intend now, by the most decisive proof, drawn from the consti- 
tutional instrument itself, to show that no such change was intended, and that 
the people of the states are united under it as states and not as individuals. On 
this point there is a very important part of the Constitution entirely and strange- 
ly overlooked by the senator in this debate, as it is expressed in the first reso» 
lution, which furnishes the conclusive evidence, not only that the Constitution 
is a compact, but a subsisting compact, binding between the states. I allude to 
the seventh article, which provides that " the ratification of the convention of 
nine states shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between 

mean a volume — compacts, not laws, bind between the states ; and it here binds, 
not between individuals, but between the states : the states ratifying, implyino-, 
as strong as language can make it, that the Constitution is what I have assert- 
ed it to be — a compact, ratified by the states, and a subsisting compact, binding 
the states ratifying it. 

But, sir, I will not leave this point, all-important in establishing the true the- ' 
ory of our government, on this argument alone, as demonstrative and conclusive 
as I hold it to be. Another, not much less powerful, but of a different charac- 
ter, may be drawn from the tenth amended article, which provides that " the 
powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited 
to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people." 
The article of ratification which I have just cited informs us that the Constitu- ' 
tion, which delegates powers, was ratified by the states, and is binding between 
them. This informs us to whom the powers are delegated, a most important 
fact in determining the point immediately at issue between the senator and my- 
self. According to his views, the Constitution created a union between indi- 
viduals, if the solecism may be allowed, and that it formed, at least to the ex- 
tent of the powers delegated, one people, and not a Federal Union of the states, 
as I contend ; or, to express the same idea differently, that the delegation of 
powers was to the American people in the aggregate (for it is only by such 
delegation that they could be made into one people), and not to the United 
States, directly contrary to the article just cited, which declares that the pow- 
ers are delegated to the United States. And here it is worthy of notice that 
the senator cannot shelter himself under the ambiguous phrase " to the people 
of the United States," under which he would certainly have taken refuge, had 
the Constitution so expressed it ; but, fortunately for the cause of truth and for 
the great principles of constitutional liberty for which I am contending, " peo- 
ple" is omitted : thus making the delegation of power clear and unequivocal to 
the United States, as distinct political communities, and conclusively proving 
that all the powers delegated are reciprocally delegated by the states to each 
other, as distinct political communities. 

So much for the delegated powers. Now, as all admit, and as it is express- 
ly provided for in the Constitution, the reserved powers are reserved to the 
states respectively, or to the people : none will pretend that, as far as they are 
concerned, we are one people, though the argument to prove it, however ab- 
surd, would be far more plausible than that which goes to show that we are 
one people to the extent of the delegated powers. This reservation " to the 
people" might, in the hands of subtle and trained logicians, be a peg to hang a 
doubt upon ; and had the expression " to the people" been connected, as fortu- 
nately it is not, with the delegated instead of the reserved powers, we should 
not have heard of this in the present discussion, 

I have now established, I hope, beyond the power of controversy, every alle- 
gation contained in the first resolution — that the Constitution is a compact 
formed by the people of the several states, as distinct political communities, 
subsisting and binding between the states in the same character ; which brings 
me to the consideration of the consequences which may be fairly deduced in 
reference to the character of our political system from these established facts. 

The first, and most important, is, that they conclusively establish that ours is 
a federal system : a system of states arranged in a Federal Union, and each re- 
taining its distinct existence and sovereignty. Ours has every attribute which 
belongs to a federative system. It is founded on compact ; it is formed by 
sovereign communities ; and is binding between them in their sovereign capaci- 
ty. I might appeal, in confirmation of this assertion, to all elementary writers 
on the subject of government, but will content myself with citing one only: 
Burlamaqui, quoted with approbation by Judge Tucker, in his Commentary on 

er's Ulackslone as follows) : 

Extracts from Blackstone's Commentaries. 

" Political bodies, whether great or small, if they are constituted by a people 
formerly independent, and under no civil subjection, or by those who justly 
claim independence from any civil power they were formerly subject to, have 
the civil supremacy in themselves, and are in a state of equal right and liberty 
with respect to all other states, whether great or small. No regard is to be had 
in this matter to names, whether the body politic be called a kingdom, an em- 
pire, a principality, a dukedom, a country, a republic, or free town. If it can 
exercise justly all the essential parts of civil power within itself, independently 
of any other person or body politic, and no other hath any right to rescind or 
annul its acts, it has the civil supremacy, how small soever its territory may be, 
or the number of its people, and has all the rights of an independent state. 

" This independence of states, and there being distinct political bodies from 
each other, is not obstructed by any alliance or confederacies whatsoever, about 
exercising jointly any parts of the supreme powers, such as those of peace and 
war, in league offensive and defensive. Two states, notwithstanding such 
treaties, are separate bodies, and independent. 

" These are, then, only deemed politically united when some one person or 
council is constituted with a right to exercise some essential powers for both, 
and to hinder either from exercising them separately. If any person or coun- 
cil is empowered to exercise all these essential powers for both, they are then 
one state : such is the State of England and Scotland, since the act of union 
made at the beginning of the eighteenth century, whereby the two kingdoms 
were incorporated into one, all parts of the supreme power of both kingdoms 
being thenceforward united, and vested in the three estates of the realm of Great 
Britain ; by which entire coalition, though both kingdoms retain their ancient 
laws and usages in many respects, they are as effectually united and incorpo- 
rated as the several petty kingdoms which composed the heptarchy were before 
that period. 

" But when only a portion of the supreme civil power is vested in one person 
or council for both, such as that of peace and war, or of deciding controversies 
between different states, or their subjects, while each within itself exercises 
other parts of the supreme power, independently of all the others — in this case 
they are called systems of states, which Burlamaqui defines to be an assemblage 
of perfect governments, strictly united by some common bond, so that they seem 
to make but a single body with respect to those affairs which interest them in 
common, though each preserves its sovereignty, full and entire, independently 
of all others. And in this case, he adds, the confederate states engage to each 
other only to exercise with common consent certain parts of the sovereignty, 
especially that which relates to their mutual defence against foreign enemies. 
But each of the confederates retains an entire liberty of exercising as it thinks 
proper those parts of the sovereignty which are not mentioned in the treaty of 
union, as parts that ought to be exercised in common. And of this nature is the 
American confederacy, in which each state has resigned the exercise of certain 
parts of the supreme civil power which they possessed before (except in com- 
mon with the other states included in the confederacy), reserving to themselves 
all their former powers, which are not delegated to the United States by the 
common bond of union. 

" A visible distinction, and not less important than obvious, occurs to our ob- 
servation in comparing these different kinds of union. The kingdoms of Eng- 
land and Scotland are united into one kingdom ; and the two contracting states, 
by such an incorporate unioa, are, in the opinion of Judge Blackstone, totally 
annihilated, without any power of revival ; and a third arises from their con- 

tion, are vested, from vvnence ne expresses a aouot wneiaer any inirmge- 
ments of the fundamental and essential conditions of the union would of itself 
dissolve the union of those kingdoms ; though he readily admits that, in the 
case of a federate alliance, such an infringement would certainly rescind the 
compact between the confederated states. In the United States of America, on 
the contrary, each state retains its own antecedent form of government ; its own 
laws, subject to the alteration and control of its own Legislature only ; its own 
executive officers and council of state ; its own courts of judicature, its own 
judges, its own magistrates, civil ofhcers, and officers of the militia ; and, in 
short, its own civil state, or body politic, in every respect whatsoever. And 
by the express declaration of the 12th article of the amendments to the Consti- 
tution, the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor 
prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the 
people. In Great Britain, a new civil state is created by the annihilation of two 
antecedent civil states; in the American States, a general /ec^eraZ council and 
administration is provided for the joint exercise of such of their several powers 
as can be more conveniently exercised in that mode than any other, leaving their 
civil stale unaltered ; and all the other powers, which the states antecedently 
possessed, to be exercised by them respectively, as if no union or connexion 
were established between them. 

" The ancient Achaia seems to have been a confederacy founded upon a 
similar plan : each of those little states had its distinct possessions, territories, 
and boundaries ; each had its Serrate or Assembly, its magistrates and judges ; 
and every state sent deputies to the general convention, and had equal weight 
in all determinations. And most of the neighbouring states which, moved by 
fear of danger, acceded to this confederacy, had reason to felicitate themselves. 
" These confederacies, by which several states are united together by a per- 
petual league of alliance, are chiefly founded upon this circumstance, that each 
particular people choose to remain their own masters, and yet are not strong 
enough to make head against a common enemy. The purport of such an 
agreement usually is, that they shall not exercise some part of the sovereignty 
there specified without the general consent of each other. For the leagues to 
which these systems of states owe their rise seem distinguished from others 
(so frequent among different states) chiefly by this consideration, that, in the 
latter, each confederate people determine themselves, by their own judgment, 
to certain mutual performances, yet so that in all other respects they design not 
in the least to make the exercise of that part of the sovereignty, whence these 
performances proceed, dependant on the consent of their allies, or to retrench 
anything from their full and unlimited power of governing their own states. 
Thus we see that ordinary treaties propose, for the most part, as their aim, only 
some particular advantage of the states thus transacting — their interests happen- 
ing at present to fall in with each other — but do not produce any lasting union 
as to the chief management of affairs. Such was the treaty of alliance between 
America and France in the year 1778, by which, among other articles, it was 
agreed that neither of the two parties should conclude either truce or peace 
with Great Britain without the formal consent of the other first obtained, and 
whereby they mutually engaged not to lay down their arms until the independ- 
ence of the United States should be formally or tacitly assured by the treaty 
or treaties which should terminate the war. Whereas, in these confederacies, 
of which we are now speaking, the contrary is observable, they being estab- 
lished with this design, that the several states shall forever liidi their safety one 
with another, and, in order to their mutual defence, shall engage themselves not 
to exercise certain parts of their sovereign power, otherwise than by a common 
agreement and approbation. Such were the stipulations, among others, con- 
tained in the articles of confederation and perpetual union between the Ameri- 

can oiai«:>, uy wmwu. ii. »> a.o i^gi-^v.^^ — -- — ^-.^, ~^^ ^w„«,.- 

of the United States in Congress assembled, send any embassy to, or receive 
any embassy from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance, or treaty 
with, any king, prince, or state ; nor keep up any vessels of war, or body of 
forces, in time of peace ; nor engage in any war, without the consent of the 
United States in Congress assembled, unless actually invaded ; nor grant com- 
missions to any ships of war, or letters of marque and reprisal, except after a 
declaration of war by the United States in Congress assembled, with several 
others ; yet each state respectively retains its sovereignty, freedom, and inde- 
pendence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not expressly dele- 
gated to the United States in Congress assembled. The promises made in 
these two cases here compared run very differently ; in the former, thus : ' I 
will join you in this particular war as a confederate, and the manner of our 
attacking the enemy shall be concerted by our common advice ; nor will we 
desist from war till the particular end thereof, the establishment of the inde- 
pendence of the United States, be obtained.' In the latter, thus : ' None of us 
who have entered into this alliance will make use of our right as to the affairs 
of war and peace, except by the general consent of the whole confederacy.' 
We observed before that these unions submit only some certain parts of the 
sovereignty to mutual direction ; for it seems hardly possible that the affairs of 
different states should have so close a connexion, as that all and each of them 
should look on it as their interest to have no part of the chief government ex- 
ercised without the general concurrence. The most convenient method, there- 
fore, seems to be, that the particular stated reserve to themselves all those 
branches of the supreme authority, the management of which can have little or 
no influence in the affairs of the rest." 
Mr. Calhoun proceeded : 

If we compare our present system with the old confederation, which all 
acknowledge to have heen federal in its character, we shall find that it possesses 
all the attributes which belong to that form of government as fully and com- 
pletely as that did. In fact, in this particular, there is but a single difference, 
and that not essential, as regards the point immediately under consideration, 
though very important in other respects. The confederation was the act of the 
state governments, and formed a union of governments. The present Consti- 
tution is the act of the states themselves, or, which is the same thing, of the 
people of the several states, and forms a union of them as sovereign communi- 
ties. The states, previous to the adoption of the Constitution, were as separate 
and distinct political bodies as the governments which represent them, and there 
is nothing in the nature of things to prevent them from uniting under a compact, 
in a federal union, without being blended in one mass, any more than uniting 
the governments themselves, in like manner, without merging them in a single 
government. To illustrate what I have stated by reference to ordinary trans- 
actions, the confederation was a contract between agents — the present Consti- 
tution between the principals themselves ; or, to take a more analogous case, 
one is a league made by ambassadors ; the other, a league made by sovereigns 
— the latter no more tending to unite the parties into a single sovereignty than 
the former. The only difference is in the solemnity of the act and the force of 
the obligation. 

There, indeed, results a most important t' fference, under our theory of govern- 
ment, as to the nature and character of the act itself, whether executed by the 
states themselves, or by their governments ; but a result, as I have already 
stated, not at all affecting the question under consideration, but which will 
throw much light on a subject in relation to which I must think the senator 
from Massachusetts has formed very confused conceptions. 

The senator dwelt much on the point that the present system is a constitu- 
tion and a government, in contradistinction to the old confederation, with a view 

senator that our present system is a constitution and a government ; and that 
the former, the old confederation, was not a constitution or government ; not, 
however, for the reason which he assigned, that the former was a compact, and 
the latter not, but from the difference of the origin from which the two com- 
pacts are derived. According to our American conception, the people alone 
can form constitutions or governments, and not their agents. It is this differ- 
ence, and this alone, which makes the distinction. Had the old confederation 
been the act of the people of the several states, and not of their governments, 
that instrument, imperfect as it is, would have been a constitution, and the 
agency which it created to execute its powers, a government. This is the 
true cause of the difference between the two acts, and not that in wliich the 
senator seems to be bewildered. 

There is another point on which this difference throws important light, and 
which has been frequently referred to in debate on this and former occasions. 
I refer to the expression in the preamble of the Constitution, which speaks of 
<' forming a more perfect union," and in the letter of General Washington, lay- 
ing the draught of the Convention before the old Congress, in which he speaks 
of " consolidating the Union ;" both of which I conceive to refer simply to the 
fact that the present Union, as already stated, is a union between the states 
themselves, and not a union like that which had existed between the govern- 
ments of the states. 

We will now proceed to consider some of the conclusions which necessarily 
follow from the facts and positions already established. They enable us to de- 
cide a question of vital importance under our system : Where does sovereignty 
reside ? If I have succeeded in establishing the fact that ours is a federal sys- 
tem, as I conceive I conclusively have, that fact of itself determines the ques- 
tion which I have proposed. It is of the very essence of such a system, that 
the sovereignty is in the parts, and not in the whole ; or, to use the language of 
Mr. Palgrave, the parts are the units in such a system, and the whole the mul- 
tiple ; and not the whole the units and the parts the fractions. Ours, then, is 
a government of twenty-four sovereignties, united by a constitutional compact, 
for the purpose of exercising certain powers through a common government as 
their joint agent, and not a union of the twenty-four sovereignties into one, 
which, according to the language of the Virginia Resolutions, already cited, would 
form a consolidation. And here I must express my surprise that the senator 
from Virginia should avow himself the advocate of these very resolutions, when 
he distinctly maintains the idea of a union of the states in one sovereignty, 
which is expressly condemned by those resolutions as the essence of a consol- 
idated government. 

Another consequence is equally clear, that, whatever modification was made 
in the condition of the states under the present Constitution, were modifications 
extending only to the exercise of their powers by compact, and not to the sover- 
eignty itself, and are such as sovereigns are competent to make : it being a con- 
ceded point, that it is competent to them to stipulate to exercise their powers 
in a particular manner, or to abstain altogether from their exercise, or to dele- 
gate them to agents, witb'sut in any degree impairing sovereignty itself. The 
plain state of the facts, ^s regards our government, is, that these states have 
agreed by compact to exercise their sovereign powers jointly, as already stated ; 
and that, for this purpose, they have ratified the compact in their sovereign ca- 
pacity, thereby making" it the constitution of each state, in nowise distinguish- 
ed from their own separate constitution, but in the superadded obligation of com- 
pact — of faith mutually pledged to each other. In this compact, they have stip- 
ulated, among other things, that it may be amended by three fourths of the states : 
that is, they have conceded to each other by compact the right to add new pow- 
ers or to subtract old, by the consent of that proportion of the states, without re- 


quirinff, as otherwise would be the case, the consent of all ; a modincation no 
more inconsistent, as has been supposed, with their sovereignty, than any other 
contained in the compact. In fact, the provision to which I allude furnishes 
strong evidence that the sovereignty is, as I contend, in the states severally : 
as the amendments are eftected, not by any one three fourths, but by any three 
fourths of the states, indicating that the sovereignty is in each of the states. 

If these views be correct, it follows, as a matter of course, that the allegiance 
of the people is to their several states, and that treason consists in resistance 
to the joint authority of the states united, not, as has been absurdly contended, 
in resistance to the government of the United States, which, by the provision of 
the Constitution, has only the right of punishing. 

These conclusions have all a most important bearing on that monstrous and 
despotic bill which, to the disgrace of the Senate and the age, has passed this 
body. I have still a right thus to speak without violating the rules of order, 
as it is not yet a law. These conclusions show that the states can violate no 
law ; that they neither are, nor in the nature of things can be, under the domin- 
ion of the law ; that the worst that can be imputed to them is a violation of 
compact, for which they, and not their citizens, are responsible ; and that, t_p 
undertake to punish a state by law, or to hold the citizens responsible for the 
acts of the state, which they are on their allegiance bound to obey, and liable 
to be punished as traitors for disobeying, is a cruelty unheard of among civilized 
nations, and destructive of every principle upon which our government is found- 
ed. It is, in short, a ruthless and complete revolution of our entire system. 

I was desirous to present these views fully before the passage of this long- 
to-be-laniented bill, but as I was prevented -by the majority, as I have stated at 
the commencement of my remarks, I trust that it is not yet too late. 

Having now said what I intended in relation to my first resolution, both in 
reply to the senator from Massachusetts, and in vindication of its correctness, I 
will now proceed to consider the conclusions drawn from it in the second res- 
olution — that the General Government is not the exclusive and final judge of 
the extent of the powers delegated to it, but that the states, as parties to the 
compact, have a right to judge, in the last resort, of the infractions of the com- 
pact, and of the mode and measure of redress. 

It can scarcely be necessary, before so enlightened a body, to premise that 
our system comprehends two distinct governments — the General and State Gov- 
ernments, which, properly considered, form but one. The former representing 
the joint authority of the states in their confederate capacity, and the latter that 
of each state separately. I have premised this fact simply with a view of pre- 
senting distinctly the answer to the argument offered by the senator from Mas- 
sachusetts to prove that the General Government has a final and exclusive right 
to judge, not only of its delegated powers, but also of those reserved to the 
states. That gentleman relies for his main argument on the assertion that a 
government, which he defines to be an organized body, endowed with both will, 
and power, and authority in propria v/gore to execute its purpose, has a right 
inherently to judge of its powers. It is not my intention to comment upon the 
definition of the senator, though it would not be difiicult to show that his ideas 
of government are not very American. My object is to deal with the conclu- 
sion, and not the definition. Admit, then, that the government has the right of 
judging of its powers, for which he contends. How, then, will he withhold, 
upon his own principle, the right of judging from the state governments, which 
he has attributed to the General Government ? If it belongs to one, on his prin- 
ciple it belongs to both ; and if to both, when they differ, the veto, so abhorred 
by the senator, is the necessary result : as neither, if the right be possessed by 
both, can control the other. 

The senator felt the force of this argument, and, in order to sustain his main 
position, he fell back on that clause of the ConstUution which provides that 

i-iiio »^uiioi,ii,uiiuii, aiiu tiit^ lavvo mauvj ill |»uisua,m;e iiitjieui, siiaii ue me Su- 
preme law of the land." 

This is admitted : no one has ever denied that the Constitution, and the laws 
made in pursuance of it, are of paramount authority. But it is equally undenia- 
ble that laws not made in pursuance are not only not of paramount authority, 
but are of no authority whatever, being of themselves null and void ; which pre- 
. sents the question, Who are to judge whether the laws be or be not pursuant 
I to the Constitution ? and thus the difficulty, instead of being taken away, is re- 
moved but one step farther back. This the senator also felt, and has attempted 
to overcome the difficulity by setting up, on the part of Congress and the judi- 
ciary, the final and exclusive right of judging, both for the Federal Government 
( and the fetates, as to the extent of their powers. That I may do full justice to 
the gentleman, I will give his doctrine in his own words. He states : 

" That there is a supreme law, composed of the Constitution, the laws pass- 
ed in pursuance of it, and the treaties ; but in cases coming before Congress, 
not assuming the shape of cases in law and equity, so as to be subjects of ju- 
dicial discussion, Congress must interpret the Constitution so often as it has oc- 
casion to pass laws ; and in cases capable of assuming a judicial shape, the Su- 
preme Court must be the final interpreter." 

Now, passing over this vague and loose phraseology, I would ask the sena- 
tor upon what principle can he concede this extensive power to the legislative 
and judicial departments, and v/ithhold it entirely from the executive 1 If one 
has the right, it cannot be withheld from the other. I would also ask him on 
what principle, if the departments of the General Government are to possess 
the right of judging, finally and conclusively, of their respective powers, on what 
principle can the same right be withheld from the State Governments, which, 
as well as the General Government, properly considered, are but departments 
of the same general system, and form together, properly speaking, but one gov- 
ernment. This was a favourite idea of Mr. Macon, for whose wisdom I have 
a respect, increasing with my experience, and whom I have frequently heard 
say that most of the misconceptions and errors in relation to our system origi- 
nated in forgetting that they were but parts of the same system. I would far- 
ther tell the senator, that, if this right be withheld from the State Governments ; 
if this restraining influence, by which the General Government is coerced to its 
proper sphere, be withdrawn, then that department of the government from which 
he has withheld the right of judging of its own powers (the executive) will, so 
far from being excluded, become the sok interpreter of the powers of the o-ov- 
ernment. It is the armed interpreter, with powers to execute its own construc- 
tion, and without the aid of which the construction of the other departments 
will be impotent. 

But I contend that the states have a far clearer right to the sole construction 
of their powers than any of the departments of the Federal Government can 
have ; this power is expressly reserved, as I have stated on another occasion, 
not only against the several departments of the General Government, but against 
the United States themselves. I will not repeat the arguments which I then 
offered on this point, and which remain unanswered, but I must be permitted to 
offer strong additional proof of the views then taken, and wliich, if I am not 
mistaken, are conclusive on this point. It is drawn from the ratification of the 
Constitution by Virginia, and is in the following words (Mr. C. then read as 
follows) : 

" We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a 
recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, hav- 
ing fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal 
Convention, and being prepared, as well as the most mature dehberation hath 
enabled us, to decide thereon, do, in the name and in behalf of the people of 
Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Coustitu- 

tion, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed hy 
them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and 
that every power not granted thereby remains with them, and at their will ; that, 
therefore no rifht of any denomination can be cancelled, abridged, restrained, 
or modified bv the Congress, by the Sena-te or House of Representatives, act- 
ing in any capacity, by the President or any departmen»t or officer of the United 
States except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution 
for those purposes ; and that, among other essential rights, the liberty of con- 
science and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified 
by any authority of the United States. With these impressions, with a solemn 
appeal to the Searcher of all hearts for the purity of our intentions, and under 
the conviction that whatsoever imperfections may exist in the Constitution ought 
rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the Union 
in danuer bv a delay, with the hope of obtaining amendments previous to the 
ratification— we, the said delegates, in the name and in the behalf of the people 
of Vir<rinia, do, by these presents, assent to and ratify the Constitution recom- 
mended on the 17th day of September, 1787, by the Federal Convention, for 
the government of the United States, hereby announcing to all those whom it 
may concern, that the said Constitution is bhiding upon the said people, accord- 
ino- to an authentic copy hereto annexed, in the words following," &c. 

It thus appears that that sagacious state (I fear, however, that her sagacity 
is not as sharpsighted now as formerly) ratified the Constitution, with an ex- 
planation as to her reserved powers ; that they were powers subject to her own 
will, and reserved against every department of the General Government — le- 
gislative, executive, and judicial — as if she had a prophetic knowledge of the at- 
tempts now made to impair and destroy them : Avhich explanation can be con- 
sidered in no other light than as containing a condition on which she ratified, 
and, in fact, making part of the Constitution of the United States — extending as 
well to the other states as herself. I am no lawyer, and it may appear to be 
presumption in me to lay down the rule of law which governs in such cases, in a 
controversy with so distingiiished an advocate as the senator from Massachusetts. 
But I shall venture to lay it down as a rule in such cases, which I have no fear 
that the gentleman will contradict, that, in case of a contract between several 
partners, if the entrance of one on condition be admitted, the condition enures to 
the benefit of all the partners. But I do not rest the argument simply upon this 
view : Virginia proposed the tenth amended article, the one in question, and her 
ratification must be at least received as the highest evidence of its true mean- 
ing and interpretation. 

If these views be correct — and I do not see how they can be resisted — the 
rights of the states to judge of the extent of their reserved powers stands on the 
most solid foundation, and is good against eveiy department of the General Gov- 
ernment ; and the judiciary is as much excluded from an interference with the 
reserved powers as the legislative or executive departments. To establish the 
opposite, the senator relies \ipon the authority of Mr. INIadison, in the Federal- 
ist, to prove that it was intended to invest the court with the power in question. 
In reply, I will meet Mr. Madison with his own opinion, given on a most solemn 
occasion, and backed by the sagacious Commonwealth of Virginia. The opinion 
to which I allude will be found in the celebrated report of 1799, of which Mr. 
Madison was the author. It says : 

" But it is objected, that the judicial authority is to be regarded as the sole 
expositor of the Constitution in the last resort ; and it may be asked for what 
reason, the declaration by the General Assembly, supposing it to be theoretical- 
ly true, could be required at the present day, and in so solemn a manner. 

" On this objection it might be observed, first, that there may be instances 
of usurped power, which the forms pf the Constitution would never draw with- 
in the control of the judicial department : secondly, that, if the decision of the ju- 

diciary be raisea above the authority of the sovereign parties to the Constitu- 
tion, the decisions of the other departments, not carried by the forms of the 
Constitution before the judiciary, must be equally authoritative and final with 
decisions of the department. But the proper answer to this objection is, that 
the resolution of the General Assembly relates to those great and extraordinary 
cases in which all the forms of the Constitution may prove ineffectual against 
j infractions dangerous to the essential rights of the parties to it. The resolution 
supposes that dangerous powers, not delegated, may not only be usurped and 
executed by the other departments, but that the judicial department, also, may 
exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution ; 
and, consequently, that the ultimate right of the parties to the Constitution to 
judge whether the compact was dangerously violated, must extend to violations 
by one delegated authority as well as by another ; by the judiciary as well as 
by the executive or the legislative." 

The senator also relies upon the authorhy of Luther Martin to the same 
point, to Avhich I have already replied so fully on another occasion (in answer 
to the senator from Delaware, Mr. Clayton), that I do not deem it necessary 
to add any farther remarks on the present occasion. 

But why should I \vaste w-ords in reply to these or any other authorities, 
when it has been so clearly established that the rights of the states are reserved 
against all and every department of the government, that no authority in oppo- 
sition can possibly shake a position so well established ? Nor do I think it ne- 
cessary to repeat the argument which I offered when the bill was under dis- 
cussion, to show that the clause in the Constitution which provides that the ju- 
dicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under this Con- 
stitution, and to the laws and treaties made under its authority, has no bearing 
on the point in controversy ; and that even the boasted power of the Supreme 
Court to decide a law to be unconstitutional, so far from being derived from this 
or any other portion of the Constitution, results from the necessity of the case — 
vv^here two rules of unequal authority come in conflict — and is a power belong- 
ing to all courts, superior and inferior, state and general, domestic and foreign. 

I have now, I trust, shown satisfactorily that there is no provision in the 
Constitution to authorize the General Government, through any of its depart- 
ments, to control the action of the state within the sphere of its reserved pow- 
ers ; and that, of course, according to the principle laid down by the senator from 
Slassachusetts himself, the government of the states, as well as the General 
Government, has the right to determine the extent of their respective powers, 
without the right on the part of either to control the other. The necessary re- 
sult is the veto, to which he so much objects ; and to get clear of which, he in- 
forms us, was the object for which the present Constitution was formed. I know 
not whence he has derived his information, but my impression is very different 
as to the immediate motives w^hich led to the formation of that instrument. I 
have always understood that the principal was, to give to Congress the power 
to regulate commerce, to lay impost duties, and to raise a revenue for the pay- 
ment of the public debt and the expenses of the government ; and to subject the 
action of the citizens individually to the operation of the laws, as a substitute 
for force. If the object had been to get clear of the veto of the states, as the 
senator states, the Convention certainly performed their work in a most bungling 
manner. There was unquestionably a large party in that body, headed by men 
of distinguished talents and influence, who commenced early and worked ear- 
nestly to the last, to deprive the states — not directly, for that would have been 
too bold an attempt, but indirectly — of the veto. The good sense of the Con- 
vention, however, put down every eflbrt, however disguised and perseveringly 
made. I do not deem it necessary to give from the journals the history of these 
various and unsuccessful attempts, though it would afford a very instructive les- 
son. It is sufficient to say that it was attempted by proposing to give Congress 

power to annul the acts of the states which they might deem inconsistent witli 
the Constitution ; to give to the President the power of appointing the governors 
of the states, with a view of vetoing state laws through his authority ; and^ 
finally, to give to the judiciary the power to decide controversies between the 
states and the General Government : all of which failed — fortunately for the 
liberty of the country — utterly and entirely failed ; and in their failure we have . 
the strongest evidence that it was not the intention of the Convention to deprive ' 
the states of the veto power. Had the attempt to deprive them of this power 
been directly made, and failed, e\'ery one would have seen and felt thai it would 
furnish conclusive evidence in favour of its existence. Now, I would ask, 
What possible difference can it make in what form this attempt was made ? 
whether by attempting to confer on the General Government a power incom- | 
patible with the exercise of the veto on the part of the states, or by attempting 
directly to deprive them of the right of exercising it. We have thus direct and 
strong proof that, in the opinion of the Convention, the states, unless deprived 
of it, possess the veto power, or, what is another name for the same thing, the 
right of nullification. I knov/ that there is a diversity of opinion among the 
friends of state rights in regard to this power, which I regret, as I cannot but 
consider it as a power essential to the protection of the minor and local inter- 
ests of the community, and the liberty and the union of the country. It is the 
ver}' shield of state rights, and the only power by which that system of injus- 
tice against which we have contended for more than thirteen years can be 
arrested : a system of hostile legislation, of plundering by law, which must ne- 
cessarily lead to a conflict of arms if not prevented. 

But I rest the right of a state to judge of the extent of its reserved powers-, 
in the last resort, on higher grounds — that the Constitution is a compact, to 
which the states are parties in their sovereign capacity ; and that, as in ali 
other cases of compact between parties having no common umpire, each has a 
right to judge for itself. To the truth of this proposition the senator from Mas- 
sachusetts has himself assented, if the Constitution itself be a compact — and 
that it is, I have shown, I trust, beyond the possibility of a doubt. Having es- 
tablished that point, I now claim, as I stated I would do in the course of the dis- 
cussion, the admissions of the senator, and, among them, the right of secession 
and nullification, which he conceded would necessarily follow if the Constitu- 
tion be indeed a compact. 

I have now replied to the arguments of the senator from Massachusetts so 
far as they directly apply to the resolutions, and will, in conclusion, notice some 
of his general and detached remarks. To prove that ours is a consolidated gov- 
ernment, and that there is an immediate connexion between the government and 
the citizen, he relies on the fact that the laws act directly on individuals. That 
such is the case I will not deny ; but I am very far from conceding the point 
that it affords the decisive proof, or even any proof at all, of the position which 
the senator wishes to maintain. I hold it to be perfectly within the competen- 
cy of two or more states to subject their citizens, in certain cases, to the direct 
action of each other, without surrendering or impairing their sovereignty. I rec- 
ollect, while I was a member of Mr. Monroe's cabinet, a proposition was sub- . 
mitted by the British Government to permit a mutual right of search and seizure , 
on the part of each government of the citizens of the other, on board of vessels 
engaged in the slave-trade, and to establish a joint tribunal for their trial and pun- ' 
ishment. The proposition was declined, not because it would impair the sover- 
eignty of either, but on the ground of general expediency, and because it would 
be incompatible with the provisions of the Constitution which establish the ju- 
dicial power, and which provisions require the judges to be appointed by the 
President and Senate. If I am not mistaken, propositions of the same kind 
were made and acceded to by some of the Continental powers. 

With the same view, the senator cited the suability of the states as evidence 

oi ineir warn oi sovereignly ; at wmcii i musi express my surprise, coming irom 
the quarter it does. No one knows better than the senator that it is perfectly 
within the competency of a sovereign state to permit itself to be sued. We have 
on the statute-book a standing law, under which the United States may be sued 
in certain land cases. If the provision in the Constitution on this point proves 
anything, it proves, by the extreme jealousy with which the right of suing a state 
is permitted, the very reverse of that for which the senator contends. 

Among other objections to the views of the Constitution for which I contend, 
it is that they are novel. I hold this to be a great mistake. The novelty 
is not on my side, but on that of the senator from Massachusetts. The doctrine 
of consolidation which he maintains is of recent growth. It is not the doctrine 
of Hamilton, Ames, or any of the distinguished federalists of that period, all of 
whom strenuously maintained the federative character of the Constitution, 
though they were accused of supporting a system of policy which would neces- 
sarily lead to consolidation. The first disclosure of that doctrine was in the 
case of M'Culloch,in which the Supreme Court held the doctrine, though wrapped 
up in language somewhat indistinct and ambiguous. The next, and more open 
avowal, was by the senator of Massachusetts himself, about three years ago, in 
the debate on Foot's resolution. The first official annunciation of the doctrine 
was in the recent proclamation of the President, of which the bill that has re- 
cently passed this body is the bitter fruit 

It is farther objected by the senator from Massachusetts, and others, against 
this doctrine of state rights, as maintained in this debate, that, if they should 
prevail, the peace of the country would be destroyed. But what if they should 
not prevail ? W(5uld there be peace ? Yes, the peace of despotism ; that peace 
which is enforced by the bayonet and the sword ; the peace of death, where 
all the vital functions of liberty have ceased. It is this peace which the doc- 
trine of state sovereignty may disturb b)^ that conflict, which in every free state, 
if properly organized, necessarily exists between liberty and power ; but which, 
if restrained within proper limits, is a salutary exercise to our moral and intel- 
lectual faculties. In the case of Carolina, which has caused all this discus- 
sion, who does not see, if the effusion of blood be prevented, that the excite- 
ment, the agitation, and the inquiry which it has caused, will be followed by 
the most beneficial consequences ? The country had sunk into avarice, in- 
trigue, and electioneering, from which nothing but some such event could rouse 
it, or restore those honest and patriotic feelings which had almost disappeared 
under their baneful influence. What government has ever attained power and 
distinction without such conflicts ? Look at the degraded state of all those na- 
tions where they have been put down by the iron arm of the government. 

I, for my part, have no fear of any dangerous conflict, under the fullest ac- 
knowledgment of state sovereignty : the very fact that the states may interpose 
will produce moderation and justice. The General Government will abstain 
from the exercise of any power in which they may suppose three fourths of the 
states will not sustain them ; while, on the other hand, the states will not in- 
terpose but on the conviction that they will be supported by one fourth of their 
co-states. IModeration and justice will produce confidence, attachment, and patri- 
otism ; and these, in turn, will offer most powerful barriers against the excess 
of conflicts between the states and the General Government. 

But we are told that, should the doctrine prevail, the present system would 
be as bad, if not worse, than the old confederation. I regard the assertion only 
as evidence of that extravagance of declaration in which, from excitement of 
feeling, we so often indulge. Admit the power, and still the present system 
would be as far removed from the weakness of the old confederation as it would 
be from the lawless and despotic violence of consolidation. So far from being 
the same, the difference between the confederation and the present Constitution 
would still be most strongly marked. If there were no other distinction, the 


fact that the former required the concurrence of the states to execute its acts, 
and the latter the act of a state to arrest its acts, would make a distinction as 
broad as the ocean : in the former, the vis inertice of our nature is in opposhion to 
the action of the system. Not to act was to defeat. In the latter, the same 
principle is on the opposite side — action is required to defeat. He who under- 
stands human nature will see in this diflerence the difference between a feeble 
and illy-contrived confederation, and the restrained energy of a federal system. 
Of the same character is the objection that the doctrine will be the source of 
weakness. If vve look to mere org-anization and physical power as the only 
source of strength, without taking into the estimate the operation of moral 
causes, such would appear to be the fact ; but if we take into the estimate the 
latter, we shall find that those governments have the greatest strength in which 
power has been most efficiently checked. The government of Rome furnishes 
a memorable example. There, two independent and distinct powers existed — 
the people acting by tribes, in which the plebeians prevailed, and by centuries, 
in which the patricians ruled. The tribunes were the appointed representa- 
tives of the one power, and the Senate of the other : each possessed of the au- 
thority of checking and overruling one another, not as departments of the gov- 
ernment, as supposed by the senator from Massachusetts, but as independent 
powers — as much so as the State and General Governments. A shallow ob- 
server would perceive, in such an organization, nothing but the perpetual source 
of anarchy, discord, and weakness ^ and yet, experience has proved that it was 
the most powerful government that ever existed ; and reason teaches that this 
power was derived from the very circumstance which hasty .reflection would 
consider the cause- of weakness. I will venture an assertion; which may be 
considered extravagant, hut in which history will fully bear me out, that we have 
no knowledge of any people in which a power of arresting the improper acts of the 
government, or what may be called the negative power of government, was too 
strong, except Poland, where every freeman possessed a veto ; but even there, 
although it existed in so extravagant a form, it was the source of the highest 
and most lofty attachment to liberty, and the most heroic courage : qualities that 
more than once saved Europe from the domination of the crescent and cime- 
ter. It is worthy of remark, that the fate of Poland is not to be attributed so 
much to the excess of this negative power of itself, as to the facility which it 
afforded to foreign influence in controlling its political movements. 

I am not surprised that, with the idea of a perfect government which the 
senator from Massachusetts has formed — a government of an absolute majority, 
unchecked and unrestrained, operating through a representative body— that he 
should be so much shocked with what he is pleased to call the absurdity of the 
state veto. But let me tell him that his scheme of a perfect government, as 
beautiful as he conceives it to be, though often tried, has invariably failed, and 
has always run, whenever tried, through the same uniform process of faction, 
corruption, anarchy, and despotism. He considers the representative principle 
as the great modern improvement in legislation, and of itself sufficient to secure 
liberty. I cannot regard it in the light in which he does. Instead of modern, 
it is of remote origin, and has existed, in greater or less perfection, in every 
free state, from the remotest antiquity. Nor dol consider it as of itself sufScient 
to secure liberty, though I regard it as one of the indispensable means — the 
means of securing the people against the tjTanny and oppression of i\ie\x riders. 
To secure liberty, another means is still necessary — the means of securing the 
different portions of society against the injustice and oppression of each other, 
which can only be effected by veto, interposition, or nullification, or by what- 
£vcr name the restraining or negative power of government may be called. 

The senator appears to be enamoured with his conception of a consolidated 
government, and avows himself to be prepared, seeking no lead, to rush, in its 
defence, to the front rank, where the blows fall heaviest and thickest. I ad- 

mire his gallantry ana courage, out i wm tell nun mat ne win nna in me op- 
posite ranks, under the flag of liberty, spirits as gallant as his own ; and that 
experience will teach him that it is intinitely easier to carry on the war of 
legislative exaction by bills and enactments, than to extort by sword and bayo- 
net from the brave and the free. 

The bill which has passed this body is intended to decide this great contro- 
versy between that view of our government entertained by the senator and those 
who act with him, and that supported on our side. It has merged the tariif, 
and all other questions connected with it, in the higher and direct issue which 
it presents between the federal and national system of governments. I con- 
sider the bill as far worse, and more dangerous to liberty, than the tarifT. It has 
been most wantonly passed, when its avowed object no longer justified it. I 
consider it as chains forged and fitted to the limbs of the states, and hung up to 
be used when occasion may require. We are told, in order to justify the pas- 
sage of this fatal measure, that it was necessary to present the olive-branch 
with one hand and the sword with the other. We scorn the alternative. You 
have no right to present the sword. The Constitution never put the instru- 
ment in your hands to be employed against a state ; and as to the olive-branch, 
whether we receive it or not will not depend on your menace, but on our own 
estimate of what is due to ourselves and the rest of the community in reference 
to the difficult subject on which we have taken issue. 

The senator from Massachusetts has struggled hard to sustain his cause, but 
the load was too heavy for him to bear. I am not surprised at the ardour and 
zeal with which he has entered into the controversy. It is a great struggle 
between povvefcand liberty — power on the side of the North, and liberty on the 
side of the ^outh. But, while I am not surprised at the part w^hich the sena- 
tor from Massachusetts has taken, I must express my amazement at the prin- 
ciples advanced by the senator from Georgia, nearest me (Mr. Forsyth). I had 
supposed it was impossible that one of his experience and sagacity should not 
perceive the new and dangerous direction which this controversy is about to take. 
For the first time, we have heard an ominous reference to a provision in the Con- 
stitution which I have never known to be before alluded to in discussion, or in 
connexion with any of our measures. I refer to that provision in the Constitu- 
tion in which the General Government guaranties a republican form of gov- 
ernment to the states — a power which hereafter, if not rigidly restricted to the 
objects intended by the Constitution, is destined to be a pretext to interfere 
with our political affairs and domestic institutions in a manner infinitely more 
dangerous than any other power which has ever been exercised on the part of 
the General Government. I had supposed that every Southern senator, at least, 
would have been awake to the danger which menaces us from this new quar- 
ter ; and that no sentiment would be uttered, on their part, calculated to coun- 
tenance the exercise of this dangerous power. With these impressions, I heard 
the senator, with amazement, alluding to Carolina as furnishing a case which 
called for the enforcement of this guarantee. Does he not see the hazard of 
the indefinite extension of this dangerous power ? There exists in every 
Southern State a domestic institution, which would require a far less bold con- 
struction to consider the government of every state, in that quarter, not to be 
Republican, and, of course, to demand, on the part of this government, a sup- 
pression of the institution to which I allude, in fulfilment of the guarantee. I 
believe there is now no hostile feelings combined with political considerations, 
in any section, connected with this delicate subject. But it requires no stretch 
of the imagination to see the danger which must one day come, if not vigilant- 
ly watched. With the rapid strides with which this government is advancing 
to power, a time will come, and that not far distant, when petitions will be re- 
ceived from the quarter to which I allude for protection : when the faith of the 
guarantee will be, at least, as applicable to that case as the senator from Geor- 



gia now thinks it is to Carolina. Unless his doctrine be opposed by united and 
firm resistance, its ultimate effect will be to drive the white population from the 
Southern Atlantic States. 



The Special Order now came up, the question being on Mr. Clay's resolu- 
tions in regard to the removal of the Public Deposites. 

Mr. Calhoun then rose, and said, that the statement of this case might be 
given in a very few words. The 16th section of the act incorporating the Bank 
provides that, wherever there is a bank or branch of the United States Bank, 
the public moneys should be deposited therein, unless otherwise ordered by the 
Secretary of the Treasury, and that, in that case, he should report to Congress, 
if in session, immediately ; and, if not, at the commencement of the next ses- 
sion. The secretary, acting under the provision of this section, has ordered 
the deposites to be withheld from the Bank, and has reported his reasons, in 
conformity with the provisions of the section. The Senate is now called upon 
to consider his reasons, in order to determine whether the secretary is justified 
or not. I have examined them with care and deliberation, withg^ut the slightest 
bias, as far as I am conscious, personal or political. I have tut a slight ac- 
quaintance with the secretary, and that little is not unfavourable to him. I 
stand wholly disconnected with the two great parlies now contending for as- 
cendency. My political connexions are with that small and denounced party 
which has voluntarily wholly retired from the party strifes of the day, with a 
view of saving, if possible, the liberty and the Constitution of the country, in 
this great crisis of our affairs. 

Having maturely considered, with these impartial feelings, the reasons of the 
secretary-, I am constrained to say that he has entirely failed to make out his 
justification. At the very commencement, he has placed his right to remove 
the deposites on an assumption resting on a misconception of the case. In the 
progress of his argxmient he has entirely abandoned the first, and assumed a new 
and greatly enlarged ground, utterly inconsistent with the first, and equally un- 
tenable ; and yet, as broad as his assumptions are, there is an important part of 
the transaction which he does not attempt to vindicate, and to which he has not 
even alluded. I shall, said INIr. Calhoix, now proceed, without farther remark, 
to make good these assertions. 

The secretary, at the commencement of his argument, assumes the position 
that, in the absence of all legal provision, he, as the head of the financial depart- 
ment, had the right, in virtue of his office, to designate the agent and place for 
the safe-keeping of the public deposites. lie then contends that the 16th sec- 
tion does not restrict his power, which stands, he says, on the same ground that 
it had before the passing of the act incorporating the Bank. It is unnecessary 
to inquire into the correctness of the position assumed by the secretary ; but, if 
it were, it would not be difficult to show that when an agent, with general pow- 
ers, assumes, in the execution of his agency, a power not delegated, the assump- 
tion rests on the necessity of the case ; and that no power, in such case, can be 
lawfully exercised, which was not necessary to effect the object intended. Nor 
■would it be difficult to show that, in this case, the power assumed by the secre- 
tary would belong, not to him, but to the treasurer, who, under the act organ- 
izing the Treasury Department, is expressly charged with the safe-keeping of 
the public funds, for which he is responsible under bond, in heavy penalties. 

Dui, as siroiigiy aim uireuii^ as iiiese consiaeranons Dear on tne question ol the 
power of the secretary, I do not think it necessary to pursue them, for the plain 
reason that the secretary has entirely mistaken the case. It is not a case, as 
he supposes, where there is no legal provision in relation to the safe-keeping 
of the public funds, but one of precisely the opposite character. The 16th sec- 
tion expressly provides that the deposites shall be made in the Bank and its 
branches, and, of course, it is perfectly clear that all powers which the secre- 
tary has derived from the general and inherent powers of his office, in the ab- 
sence of such provision, are wholly inapplicable to this case. Nor is it less 
clear that, if the section had terminated with the provision directing the deposites 
to be made in the Bank, the secretary would have had no more control over the 
subject than myself, or any other senator ; and it follows, of course, that he must 
derive his power, not from any general reasons connected with the nature of 
his office, but from some express provision contained in the section, or some 
other part of the act. It has not been attempted to be shown that there is any- 
such provision in any other section or part of the act. The only control, then, 
which the secretary can rightfully claim over the^^deposites is contained in the 
provision which directs that the deposites shall^^e made in the Bank, unless 
otherwise ordered by the Secretary of the Treasury ; which brings the whole 
question in reference to the deposites to the extent of the power which Con- 
gress intended to confer upon the secretary, in these few words, " unless other- 
wise ordered." 

In ascertaining the intention of Congress, I lay it down as a rule, which I 
suppose will not^be controverted, that all pohtical powers under our free insti- 
tutions are trus|r!^wers, and not rights, liberties, or immunities, belonging per- 
sonally to the ^ffiger. I also lay it down as a rule not less incontrovertible, 
that trust po\^^s are necessarily limited (unless there be some express pro- 
vision to the contrary) to the subject-matter and object of the tnist. This brings 
us to the question. What is the subject and object of the trust in this case ? The 
whole section relates to deposites — to the safe and faithful keeping of the pub- 
lic funds. With this view they are directed to be made in the Bank. With 
the same view, and in order to increase the security, power was conferred on 
the secretary to withhold the deposites ; and, with the same view, he is direct- 
ed to report his reasons for the removal, to Congress. All have one common 
object, the security of the public funds. To this point the whole section con- 
verges. The language of Congress, fairly understood, is. We have selected 
the Bank because we confide in it as a safe and faithful agent to keep the pub- 
lic money ; but, to prevent the abuse of so important a trust, we invest the sec- 
retary with power to remove the deposites, with a view to their increased se- 
curity. And lest the secretary, on his part, should abuse so important a trust, 
and in order still farther to increase that security, we direct, in case of removal, 
that he shall report his reasons. It is obvious, under this view of the subject, 
that the secretary has no right to act in relation to the deposites but with a view 
to their increased security ; that he has no right to order them to be withheld 
from the Bank so long as the funds are safe, and the Bank has faithfully per- 
formed the duties imposed in relation to them ; and not even then, unless the 
deposites can be placed in safer and more faithful hands. That such was the 
opinion of the executive in the first instance, we have demonstrative proof in 
the message of the President to Congress at the close of the last session, which 
placed the subject of the removal of the deposites exclusively on the question 
of their safety ; and that such was also the opinion of the House of Representa- i 
tives then, we have equally conclusive proof from the vote of that body that the , 
public funds in the Bank were safe, which was understood, at that time, on all 
sides, by friends and foes, as deciding the question of the removal of the de- 

The extent of the power intended to be conferred being established, the ques- 


tion now arises, Has the secretary transcended its limit ? It can scarcely be 
necessary to argue this point. It is not even pretended that the public deposites 
were in danger, or that the Bank had not faithfully performed all the duties im- 
posed on it in relation to them, nor that the secretary had pdaced the money in 
a safer or in more faithful hands. So far otherwise, there is not a man who 
hears me who will not admit that the public moneys are now less safe than 
they were in the Bank of the United States. And I will venture to assert that 
not a capitalist can be found who would not ask a considerably higher per cent- 
age to ensure them in their present, than in the place of deposite designated by 
law. If these views are correct, and I hold them to be unquestionable, the ques- 
tion is decided. The secretary has no right to withhold the deposites from the 
Bank. There has been, and can be but one argument advanced in favour of his 
right, which has even the appearance of being tenable — that the power to with- 
hold is given in general terms, and without qualification, " unless the secretary 
otherwise direct.'''' Those who resort to this argument must assume the posi- 
tion, that the letter ought to prevail over the clear and manifest intention of the 
act. They must regard the power of the secretary, not as a trust power, limit- 
ed by the subject and the object of the trust, but as a chartered right, to be used 
according to his discretion and^pleasure. There is a radical defect in our mode 
of construing political powers, of which this and many other instances aflbrd 
striking examples, but I will give the secretary his choice : either the intention 
or the letter must prevail : he may select either, but cannot be permitted to take 
one or the other as may suit his purpose. If he chooses the former, he has 
transcended his powers, as I have clearly demonstrated. If he selects the lat- 
ter, he is equally condemned, as he has clearly exercised pewer not compre- 
hended in the letter of his authority. He has not confined himself simply to 
withholding the public moneys from the Bank of the United Sta|es, but he has 
ordered them to be deposited in other banks, though there is not a word in the 
section to justify it. I do not intend to argue the question whether he had a 
right to order the funds withheld from the United States Bank to be placed in 
the state banks, which he has selected ; but I ask. How has he acquired that 
right ? It rests wholly on construction — on the supposed intention of the Legis- 
lature, which, when it gives a power, intends to give all the means necessary to 
render it available. But, as clear as this principle of construction is, it is not 
more clear than that which would limit the right of the secretary to the question 
of the safe and faithful keeping of the public funds ; and 5 cannot admit that the 
secretary shall be permitted to resort to the letter or to construction, as may 
best be calculated to enlarge his power, when the right construction is denied 
to those who would limit his power by the clear and obvious intention of Con- 

I might here, said Mr. Calhoun, rest the question of the power of the secre- 
tary over the deposites, without adding another word. I have placed it on 
grounds from which no ingenuity, however great, or subtlety, however refined, 
can remove it ; but such is the magnitude of the case, and such my desire to 
give the reasons of the secretary the fullest consideration, that I shall follow 
him through the remainder of his reasons. 

That the secretary was conscious that the first position which he assumed, 
and which I have considered, was untenable, we have ample proof in the pre- 
cipitancy with which he retreated from it. He had scarcely laid it down, when, 
without illustration or argument, he passed with a rapid transition, and, I must 
say, a transition as obscure as rapid, to another position wholly inconsistent 
with the first, and in assuming which, he expressly repudiates the idea that the 
safe and faithful keeping of the public funds had any necessary connexion with 
his removal of the deposites ; his power to do which, he places on the broad 
and unlimited ground that he had a right to make such disposition of them as 
the public interest or the convenience of the people might require. I have 

Bdiu mat mc liaiioiiAuii yji uin^ oc>^icicii^ vvcia do uusuuic as ii was lixuiu , uui, OO- 

scure as it is, he has said enough to enable us to perceive the process by which 
he has reached so extraordinary a position ; and we may safely affirm, that his 
arguments are not less extraordinary than the conclusion at which he arrives. 
His first proposition, which, however, he has not ventured to lay down express- 
ly, is, that Congress has an unlimited control over the deposites, and that it 
may dispose of them in whatever manner it may please, in order to promote 
the general welfare and convenience of the people. He next asserts that Con- 
gress has parted with this power under the sixteenth section, which directs the 
deposites to be made in the Bank of the United States, and then concludes 
with affirming that it has invested the Secretary of the Treasury with it, for 
reasons which I am unable to understand. 

It cannot be necessary, before so enlightened a body, that I should undertake 
to refute an argument so utterly untrue in premises and conclusion — to show 
that Congress never possessed the power which the secretary claim_s for it — - 
that it is a power, from its very nature, incapable of such enlargement, being 
limited solely to the safe keeping of the publi'e funds ; that if it existed, it 
would be susceptible of the most dangerous abuses ; that Congress might make 
the wildest and most dangerous association the ^depository of the public funds ; 
might place them in the hands of the fanatics and the madmen of the North, 
who are waging war against the domestic institutions of the South, under the 
plea of promoting the general welfare. But admitting that Congress possessed 
the power which the secretary attributes to it, by what process of reasoning caii 
he show that it has parted with this unlimited power, simply by directing the 
public money^^oVbe deposited in the Bank of the United States ? or, if it has 
-j'^arted with the power, by what extraordinary process has it been transferred 
to the Secretary of the Treasury by those few and simple words, "unless he 
shall other\V%; direct ?" In support of this extraordinary argument, the secre- 
tary has otfered not a single illustration, nor a single remark bearing the sem- 
blance of reason, bv^^one, which I shall now proceed to notice. 

He asserts, and asserts truly, that the Bank charter is a contract between the 
government, or, rather, the people of the United States and the Bank, and then 
assumes that it constitutes him a common agent or trustee, to superintend the 
execution of the stipulations contained in that portion of the contract compre- 
hended in the sixteenth section. Let us now, taking these assumptions to be 
true, ascertain what those stipulations are, the superintendence of the execution 
of which, as he affirms, are jointly confided by the parties to the secretary. 
The government stipulated, on its part, that the public money should be deposi- 
ted in the Bank of the United States — a great and valuable privilege, on which 
the successful operation of the institution mainly depends. The Bank, on its 
part, stipulated that the funds should be safely kept, that the duties imposed in 
relation to them should be faithfully discharged, and that for this, with other 
privileges, it would pay to the government the sum of one million five hundred 
thousand dollars. These are the stipulations, the execution of which, accord- 
ing to the secretary's assumption, he has been appointed, as joint agent or trus- 
tee, to superintend, and from which he would assume the extraordinary power 
which he claims over the deposites, to dispose of them in such manner as he 
may think the public interest or the convenience of the people may require. 

Is it not obvious that the whole extent of power conferred upon him, admitting 
his assumption to be true, is to withhold the deposites in case that the Bank 
should violate its stipulations in relation to them, on one side, and on the other, 
to prevent the government from withholding the deposites, so long as the Bank 
faithfully performed its part of the contract ? This is the full extent of his pow- 
er. According to his own showing, not a particle more can be added. But 
there is another aspect in which the position in which the secretary has pla- 
ced himself may be viewed. It offers for consideration not only a question of 

the extent of his power, but a question as to the nature and extent of duty 
which has been imposed upon him. If the position be such as he has descri- 
bed there has been confided to him a trust of the most sacred character, ac- 
companied by duties of the most solemn obligation. He stands, by the mutual 
confidence of the parties, vested with the high judicial power to determine on 
the infraction or observance of a contract in which government and a large and 
respectable portion of the citizens are deeply interested ; and, in the execution 
of this hiffh power, he is bound, by honour and conscience, so to act as to pro- 
tect each of the parties in the full enjoyment of their respective portion of ben- 
efit in the contract, so long as they faithfully observe it. How has the secre- 
tary performed these solemn duties, which, according to his representation, 
have been imposed upon him ? Has he protected the Bank against the aggres- 
sion of the government, or the government against the unfaithful conduct of the 
Bank in relation to the deposites ? Or has he, forgetting his sacred obligations, 
disregarded the interests of both : on one side, divesting the Bank of the de- 
posites, and on the other, defeating the government in the intended security of 
the public funds, by seizing an them as the property of the executive, to be dis- 
posed at pleasure to favourite and partisan banks ? 

But I shall relieve the secretary from this awkward and disreputable posi- 
tion in which his own arguments have placed him. He is not the mutual trus- 
tee, as he has represented, of the government and the Bank, but simply the 
agent of the former, vested, under the contract, with power to withhold the de- 
posites, with a view, as has been stated, to their additional security — to their 
safe keeping ; and if he had but for a moment reflected on th^fact that he was 
directed to report his reasons to Congress only, and not alsfiJ tq the Bank, for 
withholding the deposites, he could scarcely have failed tC|<^ceive that he 
was simply the agent of one of the parties, and not, as he supposes, a joint 
agent of both. 

The secretary having established, as he supposes, his right to dispose of 
the deposites as, in his opinion, the general interest and convenience of the 
people might require, proceeds to claim and exercise power with a boldness 
commensurate with the extravagance of the right which he has assumed. He 
commences with a claim to determine, in his official character, that the Bank 
of the United States is unconstitutional: a monopoly, baneful to the welfare of 
the community. Having determined this point, he comes to the conclusion 
that the charter of the Bank ought not to be renewed, and then assumes that it 
will not be renewed. Having reached this point, he then determines that it is 
his duty to remove the deposites. No one can object that Mr. Taney, as a 
citizen, in his individual character, should entertain an opinion as to the uncon- 
stitutionality of the Bank ; but that he, acting in his official character, and per- 
forming official acts under the charter of the Bank, should undertake to deter- 
mine that the institution was unconstitutional, and that those who granted the 
charter, and bestowed upon him his power to act imder it, had violated the 
Constitution, is an assumption of power of a nature which I will not undertake 
to characterize, as I wish not to be personal. 

But he is not content with the power simply to determine on the unconstitu- 
tionality of the Bank. He goes far beyond : he claims to be the organ of the 
voice of the people. In this high character, he pronounces that the question 
of the renewal of the Bank charter was put at issue at the last presidential ejec- 
tion, and that the people had determined that it should not be renewed. I do 
not, said Mr. Calhoun, intend to enter into the argument whether, in point of 
fact, the renewal of the charter was put at issue at the last election. That 
point was ably and fully discussed by the honourable senators from Kentucky 
(xMr. Clay) and New-Jersey (Mr. Southard), who conclusively proved that no 
such question was involved in the issue ; and if it were, the issue comprehend- 
ed so many others, that it was impossible to conjecture on which the election 

Secretary of the Treasury constitutes himself the organ of the people of the Uni- 
ted States. He has the reputation of being an able lawyer, and can he be ig- 
norant that, so long as the Constitution of the United States exists, the only or- 
gans of the people of these states, as far as the action of the General Govern- 
ment is concerned, are the several departments, legislative, executive, and judi- 
cial, which, acting within the respective limits assigned by the Constitution, 
have a right to pronounce authoritatively the voice of the people ? A claim on 
the part of the executive to interpret, as the secretary has done, the voice of 
the people through any other channel, is to shake the foundation of our system. 
Has the secretary forgotten that the last step to absolute power is this very as- 
sumption which he has claimed for that department ? I am thus brought, said 
Mr. C.jto allude to the extraordinary manifesto read by the President to the 
cabinet, ajid which is so intimately connected with the point immediately under 
consideration. That document, though apparently addressed to the cabinet, 
was clearly and manifestly intended as an appeal to the people of the United 
States, and opens a new and direct organ of couimimication between the Presi- 
dent and them unknown to the Constitution ar\d the laws. There are but two 
channels known to either through which the president can communicate with 
the people — by messages to the two houses of Congress, as expressly provided 
|F for in the Constitution, or by proclamation, setting forth the interpretations 
""'^which he places upon a law it has become his official duty to execute. Going 
beyond, is one among the alarming signs of the times which portend the over- 
throw of the Constitution and the approach of despotic power. 
:/ The secretary, having determined that the Bank was unconstitutional, and 
f that the people had pronounced against the recharter, concludes that Congress 
■^' had nothing, to do.>with the subject. With a provident foresight, he perceives 
the didlculty aa4y^barrassment into which the currency of the country would 
be thrown ori-"Afe termination of the Bank charter ; to prevent which, he pro- 
ceeds deliberately, with a parental care, to supply a new currency, " equal to or 
better" than that which Congress had supplied. With this view, he determines 
on an immediate removal of the deposites ; he puts them in certain state insti- 
tutions, intending to organize them, after the fashion of the empire state, into a 
great safety-fund system, but which, unfortunately, undoubtedly for the project- 
ors, if not for the country, the limited power of the state banks did not permit 
him to effect. But a substitute was found by associating them in certain arti- 
cles of agreement, and appointing an inspector-general of all this league of 
banks ! and all this without law or appropriation ! Is it not amazing that it never 
occurred to the secretary that the subject of currency belonged exclusively to 
Congress, and that to assume to regulate it was a plain usurpation of the pow- 
ers of that department of the government 1 

Having thus assumed the power officially to determine on the constitutional- 
ity of the Bank ; having erected himself into an organ of the people's voice, and 
settled the question of the regulation of the currency, he next proceeds to as- 
sume the judicial powers over the Bank. He declares that the Bank has trans- 
cended its powers, and has, therefore, forfeited its charter, for which he indicts 
on the institution the severe and exemplary punishment of withholding the de- 
posites ; and all this in the face of an express provision investing the court 
with power touching the infraction of the charter, directing in what manner the 
trial should be commenced and conducted, and securing expressly to the Bank 
the sacred right of trial by jury in finding the facts. All this passed for nothing 
in the eyes of the secretary, who was too deeply engrossed in providing for the 
common welfare to regard either Congress, the Court, or the Constitution. The 
secretary next proceeds to supervise the general operations of the Bank, pro- 
nouncing, with authority, that at one time it has discounted too freely, and at an- 
other too sparingly, without reflecting that all the control which the government 

can rightfully exercise over the operations of the institution is througti the tive 
directors who represent the government in this respect. Directors ! Mr. Cal- 
houn exclaimed, did I say ? (alluding to the present). No, spies is their prop- 

er designation. , . , t • i i i_ 

I cannot said Mr. C, proceed with the remarks which 1 intended on the re- 
mainder of the secretary's reasons : I have not patience to dwell on assump- 
tions of power so bold, so lawless, and so unconsthutional ; they deserve not 
the name of argument, and I cannot waste time in treating them as such. 
There are, hov/ever, two which I cannot pass over, not because they are more 
extraordinary or audacious than the others, but for another quality, Avhich 1 
choose not to designate. 

The secretary alleges that the Bank has interfered with the politics of the 
countrj-. If this be true, it certainly is a most heinous offence. The-Bank is 
a great public trust, possessing, for the purpose of discharging the trust, great 
power and influence, which it could not pervert from the object intended to that 
of influencing the politics of the country without being guilty of a great politi- 
cal crime. In making thesfhretQarks, I do not intend to give any countenance 
to the truth of the charge 'alleged by the secretary, nor to deny to the officers 
of the Bank the right which bel«Migs to them, in common with every chizen, free- 
ly to form political principles, and act on them in their private capacity, with- 
out permitting them to influence their official condu<;t. But it is straaage it did^ 
not occur to the secretary, while he was accusing and punishing the Ba^k on 
the charge of interfering in the politics of the country, that the government also 
was a great trust, vested with powers still more extensive, auil innnei 
measurably greater than that of the Bank, given to enable it to dischar-i , i 
jeet for which h was created ; and that it has no more right to pervert .- uov.-- 
er and influence into the means of controlling the politics of the coram \ than 
the Bank itself. Can it be unknown to him that the fourth :uiditor of tli. tr.asu- 
ry (an officer in his own department), the man who has nKutevso proiinncnt a 
figure in this transaction, was daily and hourly meddlin^.iu ']p6litics. and that 
he is one of the principal political managers of the adminTstration 1 ( ".in he be 
ignorant that the whole power of the government has been-'p^rrfetfed into a great 
political machine, with a view of corrupting and controlling the country ? Can 
he be ignorant that the avowed and open policy of the government is to reward 
politicaf friends and punish political enemies ? and that, acting on this princi- 
ple, it has driven from office hundreds of honest and competent officers for opin- 
ion's sake only, and filled their places with devoted partisans ? Can he be ig- 
norant that the real offence of the Bank is not that it has intermeddled in poli- 
tics, but because it toouhl not intermeddle on the side of power ? There is no- 
thing more dignified than reproof from the lips of innocence, or punishment from, 
the hands of justice ; but change the picture — let the guilty reprove and the 
criminal punish, and what more odious, more hateful, can be presented to the 
imagination ? 

The secretary next tells us, in the same spirit, that the Bank had been waste- 
ful of the public funds. That it has spent some thirty, forty, or fifty thousand 
dollars — I do not remember the exact amount (trifles have no weight in the 
determination of so great a question) — in circulating essays and speeches in de- 
fence of the institution, of which sum, one fifth part — some seven thousand dol- 
lars — belonged to the government. AVell, sir, if the Bank has really irasted this 
amount of the public money, it is a grave charge. It has not a right to waste a 
single cent ; but I must say, in defence of the Bank, that, assailed as it was by 
the executive, it would have been unfaithful to its trust, both to 'he stockholders 
and to the public, had it not resorted to ever}' proper means in its power to de- 
fend its conduct, and, among others, the free circulation of able and judicious 

But admit that the Bank has been guilty of wasting the pu.iic funds to the 

lull CAlClit \^IICH.^^\JL UJ Kixv^ v:»v^\_.ivyv(j,i^ , i *\VU1U. aoiv Al 11^, l/llt> xn^ a,\_l VJl Llic llliail- 

cial department of the government, is not under as high and solemn obligation 
to take care of the moneyed interest of the public as the Bank itself. I would 
ask him to answer me a few simple questions : IIow has he performed this duty 
in relation to the interest which the public holds in the Bank ? Has he been 
less wasteful than he has charged the Bank to have been I Has he not wast- 
ed thousands where the Bank, even according to his own statement, has hun- 
dreds ? Has he not, by withdrawing the deposites and placing them in the 
state banks, where the public receives not a cent of interest, greatly affected 
the dividends of the Bank of the United States, in which the government, as a 
stockholder, is a loser to the amount of one fifth of the diminution ? a sum which 
I will venture to predict will many fold exceed the entire amount which the 
Bank has expended in its defence. But this is a small, a very small proportion 
of the public loss, in consequence of the course which the executive has pur- 
sued in relation to the Bank, and which has reduced the value of the shares 
from 130 to 108 (a senator near me says much more. It may be; I am not 
particular in such things), and on which the public sustains a corresponding 
loss on its share of the stock, amounting to seven millions of dollars — a sum 
more than two hundred fold greater than the waste which he has charged upon 
the Bank. Other administrations may exceed this in talents, patriotism, and 
honesty, but, certainly, in audacity, in effrontery, it stands without a parallel ! 

The secretary has brought forward many and grievous charges against the 
Bank. I willnot condescend to notice them — it is the conduct of the secreta- 
ry, and not that of the Bank, which is immediately under examination, and he 
has no right to drag the conduct of the Bank into the issue, beyond its opera- 
tions in regard to the deposites. To that extent I am prepared to examine his 
allegations again^la^t, but beyond that he has no right — no, not the least — to ar- 
raign the conductfof the Bank ; and I, for one, will not, by noticing his charges 
beyond that point, sanction his authority to call its conduct in question. But 
let the point in issue be determined, and I, as far as my voice extends, will give 
to those who desirent the means of the freest and most unlimited inquiry into 
its conduct. I am no partisan of the Bank — I am connected with it in no way, 
by moneyed or political ties. I might say, with truth, that the Bank owes as 
much to me as to any other individual iu the country ; and I might even add 
that, had it not been for my efforts, it woxi)4'iiot have been chartered. Standing 
in this relation to the institution, a high"^nse of delicacy, a regard to independ- 
ence and character, has restrained me from any connexion with the institution 
whatever, except some trifling accommodations in the way of ordinary business, 
which were not of the slightest importance either to the Bank or myself. 

But while I shall not condescend to notice the charges of the secretary 
against the Bank beyond the extent which I have stated, a sense of duty to the 
institution, and regard to the part which I took in its creation, compels me to 
notice two allegations against it which have fallen from another quarter. It is 
said that the Bank had no agency, or at least efficient agency, in the restoration 
of specie payment in 1817, and that it had failed to furnish the country with a 
uniform and sound currency, as had been promised at its creation. Both of 
these allegations I pronounce to be Avithout just foundation. To enter into a 
minute examination of them would carry me too far from the subject, and I must 
content myself with saying that, having been on the political stage, without in- 
terruption, from that day to this — having been an attentive observer of the ques- 
tion of the currency throughout the whole period — that the Bank has been an 
indispensable agent in the restoration of specie payments ; that without it the 
restoration could not have been effected short of the utter prostration of all the 
moneyed institutions of the country, and an entire depreciation of bank paper ; 
and that it has not only restored specie payment, but has given a currency far 
more uniform between the extremes of the country than was anticipated, or even 
.,1. R 

dreamed of, at the time of its creation. I will say for myself, that I did not be- 
lieve, at that time, that the exchange between the Atlantic and the West would 
be brouo-ht lower than two and a half per cent. — the estimated expense then, 
including insurance and loss of time, of transporting specie between the two 
points. How much it was below the anticipated point I need not state : the 
whole commercial world knows that it was not a fourth part at the time of the 
removal of the deposites. 

But to return from this digression. Though I will not notice the charges of 
the secretary for the reasons already stated, I will take the liberty of propound- 
ino- to those who support them on this floor a few plain questions. If there 
be in banking institutions an inherent tendency so strong to abuse and corrup- 
tion as they contend — if, in consequence of this tendency, the Bank of the Uni- 
ted States be guilty of the enormous charges and corruptions alleged, notwith- 
standing its responsibility to the government and our control over it, v/hat is to 
be expected from an irresponsible league of banks, as called by the senator from 
Kentucky (M. Clay), over which we have no legal control? If our power of 
renewing the charter of the Bank of the United States — if our right to vacate 
the charter by scire facias, in case of misconduct— if the influence vi^iich the 
appointment of five government directors gives us — and, finally, if the power 
which we have of appointing committees to examine into its condition, are not 
sufficient to hold the institution in check ; if, in spite of all these, it has, from the 
innate corruption of such institutions, been guilty of the enormous abuses and 
crimes charged against it, what may we not expect from the asso<;iated banks, 
the favourites of the treasury, over the renewal of whose charter the government 
has no power, against which it can issue no scire facias, in whose direction it 
has not a single individual, and into whose conduct Congress can appoint no 
committee to look ? With these checks all withdrawn, wh^ will be the con- 
dition of the public funds ? ^ 

I, said Mr. Calhoun, stated in the outset of my remarks, that, as broad as 
was the power which the secretary had assumed in relation to the deposites, 
there was a portion of the transaction of a highly important^ character, to which 
he has not alluded, and in relation to which he has not even attempted a justifi- 
cation. I will now proceed to make good this assertion to the letter. 

There is a material diflerence between withholding money from going into the 
Bank, and ivithdrawing it after it ha§ been placed there. The former is authorized 
in the manner which 1 have stated, uMer the sixteenth section, which directs, as 
has been frequently stated, that the public money shall be deposited in the Bank, 
unless otherwise ordered by the Secretary of the Treasury. But neither that sec- 
tion, nor any portion of the act incorporating the Bank, nor, in truth, any other 
act, gives the secretary any authority of himself to withdraw public money de- 
posited in the Bank. There is, I repeat, a material difl"erence between with- 
holding public money from deposite and withdrawing it. When paid into the 
place designated by law as the deposite of the public money, it passes to the 
credit of the treasurer, and then is in the treasury of the United States, where 
it is placed under the protection of the Constitution itself, and from which, by 
an express provision of the Constitution, it can only be withdrawn by an appro- 
priation made by law. So careful were the framers of the act of 1816 to leave 
nothing to implication, that express authority is given to the Secretary of the 
Treasury, in the fifteenth section, to transfer the deposites from one place to an- 
other, for the convenience of disbursements ; but which, by a strange perversion, 
is now attempted to be so construed as to confer on the secretary the power to 
withdraw the money from the deposite, and loan it to favourite state banks — I 
express myself too favourably, I should say give (they pay no interest) — with 
a view to sustain their credits or enlarge their profits — a power not only far be- 
yond the secretary, but which Congress itself could not exercise without a fla- 
grant breach of the Constitution. But it is said, in answer to these views. 

that money paid m deposite into the Bank, as directed by law, is not in the 
treasury. I will not stop, said Mr. C, to reply to such an objection. If it be 
not in the treasury, where is the treasury ? If it be not money in the treasury, 
where is the money annually reported to be in the treasury ? where the eight or 
nine millions which, by the annual report of the secretary, are said to be now in 
the treasury ? Are we to understand that none of this money is, in truth in the 
, treasury ? that it is floating about at large, subject to be disposed of, to be given 
I away, at the will of the executive, to favourites and partisans ? So it would 
seem ; for it appears, by a correspondence between the treasurer and the cash- 
ier of the Bank, derived through the Bank (the secretary not deemino- it worth 
while to give the slightest information of the transaction, as if a matter of 
course), that he has drawn out two millions and a quarter of the public money 
/ without c^ppropriation, and distributed it at pleasure among his favourites ! 

But it jis attempted to vindicate the conduct of the secretary on the ground of 
precederii I will not stop to notice whether the cases cited are in point, nor 
will I avail myself of the great and striking advantage that I might have on the 
question of precedent : this case stands alone and distinct from all others. There 
is none similar to it in magnitude and importance. I waive all that : I place 
myself on higher grounds— I stand on the immovable principle that, on a ques- 
tion of law and constitution, in a deliberative assembly, there is no room no 

place for precedents. To admit them would be to make the violation of to-day 
the law and Constitution of to-morrow ; and to substitute in the place of the writ- 
ten and sacred will of the people and the Legislature, the infraction of those char, 
ged with the execution of the laio. Such, in my opinion, is the relative force of 
law and constitution on one side, as compared with precedents on the other. 
Viewed in a different light, not in reference to the law or Constitution, but to 
the conduct of the officer, I am disposed to give rather more weight to prece- 
dents, when the question relates to an excuse or apology for the officer, in case 
of infraction. If the infraction be a trivial one, in a case not calculated to ex- 
cite attention, an offi„cer might fairly excuse himself on the ground of precedent ; 
but in one like this, of the utmost magnitude, involving the highest interests and 
most important principles, where the attention of the officer must be aroused to 
a most carefiil examination, he cannot avail himself of the plea of precedent to 
excuse his conduct. It is a case where false precedents are to be corrected, and 
not followed. An officer ought to be ashamed, in such a case, to attempt to vin- 
dicate his conduct on a charge of violating law or Constitution by pleading pre- 
cedent. The principle in such case is obvious. If the secretary's right to 
withdraw public money from the treasury be clear, he has no need of precedent 
to vindicate him. If not, he ought not, in a case of so much magnitude, to 
have acted. 

I have not (said Mr. Calhoun) touched a question, which has had so promi- 
nent a part in the debate, whether the withholding of the deposites was the act 
of the secretary or the President. Under my view of the subject, the question 
is not of the slightest importance. It is equally unauthorized and illegal, 
whether done by President or secretary ; but^ as the question has been agitated, 
and as my views do not entirely correspond on this point with those advocating 
the side which I do, I deem it due to frankness to express my sentiments. 

I have no doubt that the President removed the former secretary, and placed 
the present in his place, expressly with a view to the removal of the deposites. 
I am equally clear, under all the circumstances of the case, that the President's 
conduct is wholly indefensible ; and, among other objections, I fear he had in 
view, in the removal, an object eminently dangerous and unconstitutional — to 
give an advantage to his veto never intended by the Constitution — a power in- 
tended as a shield to protect the executive against the encroachment of the 
legislative department — to maintain the present state of things against dangerous 
or hasty innovation, but which, I fear, is, in this case, intends*^ ■ « a sword to 

defend the usurpation of the executive. I say I fear ; for, ahhough the circmn- 
stance of this case leads to a just apprehension that such is the intention, I will 
not permit myself to assert that such is the fact — that so lawless and unconsti- 
tutional an object is contemplated by the President, till his act shall compel me 
to believe to the contrary. But while I thus severely condemn the conduct of 
the President in removing the former secretary and appointing the present, I 
must say that, in my opinion, it is a case of the abuse, and not of the usurpation 
of power. The President has the right of removal from office^ The power of 
xemoval. wherever it exists, does, from necessity, involve the power of general 
supervision ; nor can I doubt that it might be constitutionally exercised in ref- 
erence to the deposites. Reverse the present case : suppose the late secreta- 
ly, instead of being against, had been in favour of the removal, and that the 
President, instead of for, had been against it, deeming the removal not only in- 
expedient, but, under the circumstances, illegal ; would any man doubt thaty 
imder such circumstances, he had a right to remove his secretary, if it were the 
only means of preventing the removal of the deposites ? Nay, would it not be 
his indispensable duty to have removed him ? and had he not, would not he 
have been universally, and justly, held responsible ? 

1 have now (said Mr. C.) ofl'ered all the remarks I intended in reference to 
the deposite question ; and, on reviewing the whole ground, I must say, that 
the secretary, in removing the deposites, has clearly transcended his power ; that 
he has violated the contract between the Bank and the United States ; that, iri 
so doing, he has deeply injured that large and respectable portion of our citi- 
zens who have been invited, on the faith of the government, to invest their 
property in the institution ; while, at the same time, he has deeply injured the 
public in its character of stockholder ; and, finally, that he has ir.flicted a deep 
-wound on the public faith. To this last I attribute the present embarrassment 
in the currency, which has so injuriously affected all the great interests of the 
country. The credit of the country is an important ponion of the currency of 
the country — credit in every shape, public and private — ©redit,- not only in the 
shape of paper, but that of faith and confidence between man and man — through 
the agency of which, in all its fonns, the great and mighty exchanges of this 
commercial countr}', at home and abroad, are, in a great measure, effected. To 
inflict a wound anywhere, particularly on the public faith, is to embarrass all 
the channels of currency and exchange ; and it is to this, and not to the with- 
drawing the few millions of dollars from circulation, that I attribute the present 
moneyed embarrassment. Did I believe the contrary — if I thought that any great 
and permanent distress would of itself resxilt from winding up, in a regular and 
legal manner, the present or any other Bank of the United States, I would deem 
it an evidence of the dangerous power of the institution, and, to that extent, an 
argument against its existence ; but, as it is, I regard the present embarrass- 
ment, not as an argument against the Bank, but an argument against the law- 
less and wanton exercise of power on the part of the executive — an embarrass- 
ment which is likely to continue if the deposites be not restored. The banks 
■which have received them, at the expense of the public faith, and in violation 
of law, will never be permitted to enjoy their spoils in quiet. No one who re- 
gards the subject in the light in which I do, can ever give his sanction to any 
law intended to protect or carry through the present illegal arrangement ; on 
the contrary, all such must feel bound to wage perpetual war against a usurpa- 
tion of power so fiagrant as that which controls the present deposites of the 
public money. If I stand alone (said Mr. Calhoun), I, at least, will continue 
to maintain the contest so long as I remain in public life. 

As important (said Mr. Calhoun) as I consider the question of the deposites, 
in all its bearings, public and private, it is one on the surface, a mere pretext 
to another, and one greatly more important, which lies beneath, and which 
must be taken into consideration, to understand correctly all the circumstances 

auenuing this extraorainary transaction. It is lelt and acknowjeugeu on all 
sides that there is another and a deeper question, which has excited the pro- 
found sensation and alarm which pervade the country. 

If we are to believe what we hear from the advocates of the administration, 
we would suppose at one time that the real question was Bank or no Bank ; at 
another, that the question was between the United States Bank and the state 
banks ; and, finally, that it was a struggle on the part of the administration to 
guard and defend the rights of the states against the encroachments of the Gen- 
eral Government. The administration the guardians and defenders of the 
rights of the states ! What shall I call it ? audacity or hypocrisy ? The au- 
thors of the proclamation the guardians and defenders of the rights of the states ! 
The authors of the war message against a member of this confederacy — the au- 
thors of the " bloody bill" the guardians and defenders of the rights of the 
states ! This a struggle for state rights ? No, sir : state rights are no more. 
The .struggle is over for the present. The bill of the last session, which vested 
in the government the right of judging of the extent of its powers, finally and 
conclusively, and gave it the right of enforcing its judgments by the sword, de- 
stroyed all distinction between delegated and reserved rights, concentrated in 
the government the entire power of the system, and prostrated the states, as poor 
and helpless corporations, at the foot of this sovereignty. 

Nor is it more true that the real question is Bank or no Bank. Taking the 
deposite question in the broadest sense ; suppose, as it is contended by the 
friends of the administration, that it involves the question of the renewal of the 
charter, and, consequently, the existence of the Bank itself, still the banking sys- 
tem would stand almost untouched and unimpaired. Four hundred banks 
would still remain scattered over this wide Republic, and on the ruins of the 
United States Bank many would rise to be added to the present list. Under 
this aspect of the subject, the only possible question that could be presented 
for consideration would be, whether the banking system was more safe, more 
beneficial, or more constitutional, with or without the United States Bank. 

If, said Mr. Calhoun, this was a question of Bank or no Bank — if it involved 
the existence of the banking system, it would indeed be a great question — one 
of the first magnitude, and, with my present impression, long entertained and 
daily increasing, I would hesitate — long hesitate — before I would be found un- 
der the banner of the system. I have great doubts, if doubts they may be call- 
ed, as to the soundness and tendency of the whole system, in all its modifica- 
tions : I have great fears that it will be found hostile to liberty and the advance 
of civilization — fatally hostile to liberty in our country', where the system ex- 
ists in its worst and most dangerous form. Of all institutions affecting the 
great question of the distribution of wealth — a question least explored and the 
most important of any in the whole range of political economy — the banking in- 
stitution has, if not the greatest, one of the greatest, and, I fear, most pernicious 
influence on the mode of distribution. Were the question really before us, I 
would not shun the responsibility, as great as it might be, of freely and fully of- 
fering my sentiments on these deeply-important points ; but, as it is, I must 
content myself with the few remarks which I have thrown out. 

What, then, is the real question which now agitates the country ? I answer, 
it is a struggle between the executive and legislative departments of the gov- 
ernment: a struggle, not in relation to the existence of the Bank, but which, 
Congress or the President, should have the power to create a Bank, and the 
consequent control over the currency of the country. This is the real question. 
Let us not deceive ourselves : this league, this association of banks, created by 
the executiv'e, bound together by its influence, united in common articles of as- 
sociation, vivified and sustained by receiving the deposites of the public money, 
and having their notes converted, by being received everywhere by the treasu- 
ry, into the common currency of the country', is, to all intents and purposes, a 

Bank of the United States — the executive Bank of the United States, as distin- 
guished from that of Congress. However it might fail to perforin satisfactorily 
the useful functions of the Bank of the United States as incorporated by law, it 
would outstrip it — far outstrip it — in all its dangerous qualities, in extending the 
power, the influence, and the corruption of the government. It is impossible 
to conceive any institution more admirably calculated to advance these objects. 
Not only the selected banks, but the whole banking institutions of the country, 
and with them the entire money power, for the purpose of speculation, peculation, 
and corruption, would be placed under the control of the executive. A system 
of menaces and promises will be established : of menace to the banks in pos- 
session of the deposites, but which might not be entirely subservient to execu- 
tive views ; and of promise of future favours to those who may not as yet enjoy 
its favours. Between the two, the banks would be left without influence, hon- 
our, or honesty, and a system of speculation and stock-jobbing would com- 
mence, unequalled in the annals of our country. I fear they have already com- 
menced ; I fear the means which have been put in the hands of the minions of 
power by the removal of the deposites, and placing them in the vaults of de- 
pendant banks, have extended their cupidity to the public lands, particularly in 
the Southwest, and that to this we must attribute the recent phenomena in that 
quarter — immense and valuable tracts of land sold at short notice ; sales fraudu- 
lently postponed to aid the speculators, with which, if I am not misinformed, a 
name not unknown to this body has performed a prominent part. But I leave 
this to my vigilant and able friend from Mississippi (Mr. Poindexter), at the 
head of the Committee on Public Lands, who, I doubt not, will see justice done 
to the public. As to stock-jobbing, this new arrangement will open a field 
which Rothschild himself may envy. It has been found hard work — very 
hard, no doubt — by the jobbers in stock, who have been engaged in attempts to 
raise or depress the price of United States Bank stock ; but no work will be 
more easy than to raise or depress the price of the stock of the selected banks,, 
at the pleasure of the executive. Nothing more will be required than to give 
or withhold deposites ; to draw, or abstain from drawing warrants ; to pamper 
them at one time, and starve them at another. Those who would be in the se- 
cret, and who would know when to buy and when to sell, would have the means 
of realizing, by dealing in the stocks, whatever fortune they might please. 

So long as the question is one between a Bank of the United States incorpo- 
rated by Congress, and that system of banks which has been created by the 
will of the executive, it is an insult to the understanding to discourse on the 
pernicious tendency and unconstitutionality of the Bank of the United States. 
To bring up that question fairly and legitimately, you must go one step farther : 
you must divorce the government and the banking system. You must refuse 
all connexion with banks. You must neither receive nor pay away bank-notes ; 
you must go back to the old system of the strong box, and of gold and silver. 
If you have a right to receive bank-notes at all — to treat them as money by re- 
ceiving them in your dues, or paying them away to creditors — you have a right 
to create a bank. Whatever the government receives and treats as money, is 
money in efliect ; and if it be money, then they have the right, under the Consti- 
tution, to regulate it. Nay, they are bound by a high obligation to adopt the 
most efficient means, according to the nature of that which they have recogni- 
sed as money, to give it the utmost stability and uniformity of value. And if 
it be in the shape of bank-notes, the most efficient means of giving those quali- 
ties is a Bank of the United States, incorporated by Congress. Unless you 
give the highest practical uniformity to the value of bank-notes, so long as you 
receive them in your dues, and treat them as money, you violate that provision 
of the Constitution which provides that taxation shall be uniform throughout the 
United States. There is no other alternative : I repeat, you must divorce the 
government entirely from the banking system, or, if not, you are boimd to incor- 

poraie a oanK as luts uuiy saie aim erncient means oi giving stability ^nd uni- 
formity to the currency. And should the deposites not be restored, and the 
present illegal and unconstitutional connexion between the executive and the 
league of banks continue, I shall feel it my duty, if no one else moves, to in- 
troduce a measure to prohibit government from receiving or touching bank-notes 
in any shape whatever, as the only means left of giving safety and stability to 
the ourrency, and saving the country from corruption and ruin. 

Viewing the question, in its true light, as a struggle on the part of the execu- 
tive to seize on the power of Congress, and to unite in the President the power 
of the sword and the purse, the senator from Kentucky (Mr. Clay) said, truly, 
and, let me add, philosophically, that we are in the midst of a revolution. Yes, 
the very existence of free governments rests on the proper distribution and or- 
ganization of power ; and to destroy this distribution, and thereby concentrate 
power in any one of the departments, is to effect a revolution ; but, while I 
agree with the senator that we are in the midst of a revolution, I cannot atrree 
with him as to the time at which it commenced, or the point to which it has 
progressed. Looking to the distribution of the powers of the General Govern- 
ment — into the legislative, executive, and judicial departments — and confinino- 
his views to the encroachment of the executive upon t-he legislative, he dates 
the commencement of the revolution but sixty days previous to the meeting of 
the present Congress. I, said Mr. Calhoun, take a wider range, and date it 
from an earlier period. Besides the distribution among the departments of the 
General Government, there belongs to our system another, and a far more im- 
portant division or distribution of power — that between the states and the Gen- 
eral Government, the reserved and delegated rights, the maintenance of which 
is still more essential to the preservation of our institutions. Taking this wide 
review of our political system, the revolution in the midst of which we are, be- 
gan, not, as supposed by the senator from Kentucky, shortly before the com- 
mencement of the present session, but many years ago, with the commence- 
ment of the restrictive system, and terminated its first stage with the passage 
of the force bill of the last session, which absorbed all the rights and sovereign- 
ty of the states, and consolidated them in this government. While this pro- 
cess was going on, of absorbing the reserved powers of the states on the part 
of the General Government, another commenced, of concentrating in the execu- 
tive the powers of the other two, the legislative and judicial departments of the 
government, which constitutes the second stage of the revolution, in which we 
have advanced almost to the termination. 

The senator from Kentucky, in connexion with this part of his argument, read a 
striking passage from one of the most pleasing and instructive writers in any lan- 
guage (Plutarch), giving the description of Caesar forcing himself, sword in hand, 
into the treasury of the Roman Commonwealth. We are at the same stao-e of 
our political revolution, and the analogy between the two cases is complete, va- 
ried only by the character of the actors and the circumstances of the times. 
That was a case of an intrepid and bold warrior, as an open plunderer, seiz- 
ing forcibly the treasury of the country, which, in that Republic, as well as 
ours, was confided to the custody of the legislative department of the govern- 
ment. The actors in our case are of a different character : artful and cunning 
politicians, and not fearless warriors. They have entered the treasury, not 
sword in hand, as public plunderers, but with the false keys of sophistry, under 
the silence of midnight. The motive and object are the same, varied only by 
character and circumstances. " With money I will get men, and with men 
money," was the maxim of the Roman plunderer. With money we will get 
partisans, with partisans votes, and with votes money, is the maxim of our pub- 
lic pilferers. With men and money, Caesar struck down Roman liberty at the 
fatal battle of Pharsalia, never to rise again ; from which disastrous hour, all the 
powers of the Roman Republic were consolidated in the person of Cajsar, and 


perpetuated in his line. "With money and corrupt partisans, a great efTort is 
now making to choke and stifle the voice of American liberty, through all its con- 
stitutional and legal organs ; by pensioning the press ; by overawing the other 
departments ; and, finally, by setting up a new organ, composed of office-holders 
and partisans, under the name of a national convention, which, counterfeiting the 
voice of the people, will, if not resisted, in their name dictate the succession ; 
when the deed shall have been done — -the revolution completed — and all the 
powers of our Republic, in like manner, consolidated in the executive in time, 
and perpetuated by his dictation. 

The senator from Kentucky (Mr. C.) anticipates with confidence that the 
small party who were denounced at the last session as traitors and disuuionists 
will be found, on this trying occasion, standing in the front rank, and manfully 
resisting the advance of despotic power. I, said Mr. Calhoun, heard the an- 
ticipation with pleasure, not on account of the compliment which it implied, bul 
the evidence which it affords that the cloud which has been so industriously 
thrown over the character and motive of that small, but patriotic party, begins 
to be dissipated. The senator hazarded nothing in the prediction. That party 
is the determined, the fixed, and sworn enemy to usurpation, come from \vha& 
quarter and under what form it may — whether from the executive upon the other 
departments of this government, or from this government on the sovereignty and 
rights of the states. The resolution and fortitude with which it maintained its 
position at the last session, under so many difliculties and dangers, in defence 
of the states against the encroachments of the General Government, furnished 
evidence not to be mistaken, that that party, in the present momentous struggle, 
would be found arrayed in defence of the rights of Congress against the en- 
croachments of the President. And let me tell the senator from Kentucky, said 
Mr. C, that, if the present struggle against executive usurpation be successful, 
it will be owing to the success with which we, the nullifiers — I am not afraid 
of the word — maintained the rights of the states against the encroachment of 
the General Govemment at the last session. 

A very few words will place this point beyond controversy. To the inter- 
position of the State of South Carolina we are indebted for the adjustment of 
the tariff question ; without it, all the influence of the senator from Kentucky 
over the manufacturing interest, great as it deservedly is, would have been 
wholly incompetent, if he had even thought proper to exert it, to adjust the 
question. The attempt would have prostrated him, and those who acted with 
him, and not the system. It was the separate action of the state that gave him 
the place to stand ujxin, created the necessity for the adjustment, and disposed 
the minds of all to compromise. Now, I put the solemn question to all who 
hear me. If the tariff had not then been adjusted — if it was now an open ques- 
tion — what hope of successful resistance against the usurpations of the executive, 
on the part of this or any other branch of the government, could be entertained ? 
Let it not be said that this is the result of accident — of an unforeseen contin- 
gency. It was clearly perceived, and openly stated, that no successful resist- 
ance could be made to the corruption and encroachments of the executive while 
the tariff question remained open — while it separated the North from the South, 
and wasted the energy of the honest and patriotic portions of the community 
against each other, the joint effort of which is indispensably necessary to expei 
those from authority who are converting the entire powers of government into 
a corrupt electioneering machine ; and that, without separate state interposition, 
the adjustment was impossible. The truth of this position rests not upon the 
accidental state of thing's, but on a profound principle growing out of the nature 
of government and party struggles in a free state. History and reflection teach 
us that, when great interests come into conflict, and the passions and the preju- 
dices of men are roused, such struggles can never be composed by the influ- 
ence of any individuals, however great ; and if there be not somewhere in the 

system some high constitutional power to arrest their progress, ana compel the 
parties to adjust the difference, they go on till the state falls by corruption or 

I will, said Mr. C, venture to add to these remarks another, in connexion 
with the point under consideration, not less true. We are not only indebted to the 
cause which I have stated for our present strength in this body against the pres- 
ent usurpation of the executive, but if the adjustment of the tariff had stood alone, 
as it outrht to have done, without the odious bill which accompanied it — if those 
who led in the compromise had joined the State Rights party in their resistance 
to that unconstitutional measure, and thrown the responsibility on its real authors, 
the administration, their party would have been so prostrated throughout the en- 
tire South, and their power, in consequence, so reduced, that they would not 
have dared to attempt the present measure ; or, if they had, they would have 
been broke and defeated. 

Were I, said Mr. C, to select the case best calculated to illustrate the ne- 
cessity of resisting usurpation at the very commencement, and to prove how 
difficult it is to resist it in any subsequent stage if not met at first, I would se- 
lect this very case. What, he asked, is the cause of the present usurpation of 
power on the part of the executive 1 What the motive, the temptation, which 
has induced them to seize on the deposites ? What but the large surplus 
revenue ? the eight or ten millions in the public treasury beyond the wants of 
the government ? And what has put so large an amount of money in the treas- 
ury, when not needed ? I answer, the protective system — that system which 
graduated duties, not in reference to the wants of the government, but in refer- 
ence to the importunities and demands of the manufacturers, and which poured 
millions of dollars into the treasury beyond the most profuse demands, and even 
the extravagance of the government — taken — unlawfully taken, from the pockets 
of those who honestly made it. I hold that those who make are entitled to 
what they make against all the world, except the government ; and against it, 
except to the extent of its legitimate and constitutional wants ; and that for the 
government to take one cent more is robbery. In violation of this sacred prin- 
ciple. Congress frst removed the deposites into the public treasury from the 
pockets of those who made it, where they were rightfully placed by all laws, 
human and divine. The executive, in his turn, following the example, has 
taken them from that deposite, and distributed them among favourite and partisan 
banks. The means used have been the same in both cases. The Constitution 
gives to Congress the power to lay duties with a view to revenue. This power, 
without regarding the object for which it was intended, forgetting that it was a 
great trust power, necessarily limited, by the very nature of such powers, to the 
subject and the object of the trust, was perverted to a use never intended, that 
of protecting the industry of one portion of the country at the expense of another ; 
and, under this false interpretation, the money was transferred from its natural 
and just deposite, the pockets of those who made it, into the public treasury, as 
I have stated. In this, too, the executive followed the example of Congress. 

By the magic construction of a few simple words — " unless otherwise order- 
ed" — intended to confer on the Secretary of the Treasury a limited power — to 
give additional security to the public deposites, he has, in like manner, pervert- 
ed this power, and made it the instrument, by similar sophistry, of drawing the 
money from the treasury, and bestowing it, as I have stated, on favourite and 
partisan banks. Would to God, said Mr. C, would to God I could reverse the 
whole of this nefarious operation, and terminate the coritroversy by returning 
the money to the pockets of the honest and industrious citizens, by the sweat 
of whose brows it was made, and to whom only it rightfully belongs. But, as 
this cannot be done, I must content myself by giving a vote to return it to the 
public treasury, where it was ordered to be deposited by an act of the Legis- 


There is another aspect, said Mr. C, in which this subject may be viewed. 
We all remember how early the question of the surplus revenue began to agi- 
tate the country. At a very early period, a senator from New-Jersey (Mr. 
Dickerson) presented his scheme for disposing of it by distributing it among 
the states. The first message of the President recommended a similar project, 
which was followed up by a movement on the part of the Legislature of New- 
York, and, I believe, some of the other states. The public attention was aroused 
— the scheme scrutinized — its gross unconstitutionality and injustice, and its 
dangerous tendency — its tendency to absorb the power and existence of the 
states, were clearly perceived and denounced. The denunciation was too deep 
to be resisted, and the scheme was abandoned. What have we now in lieu 
of it ? What is the present scheme but a distribution of the surplus revenue ? 
A distribution at the sole will and pleasure of the executive — a distribution to 
favourite banks, and through them, in the shape of discounts and loans, to corrupt 
partisans, as the means of increasing political influence ? 

We have, said Mr. C, arrived at a fearful crisis. Things cannot long re- 
main as they are. It behooves all who love their country — who have afl'ection 
for their ofl'spring, or who have any stake in our institutions, to pause and re- 
flect. Confidence is daily withdrawing from the General Government. Alien- 
ation is hourly going on. These will necessarily create a state of things 
inimical to the existence of our institutions, and, if not arrested, convulsions 
must follow ; and then comes dissolution or despotism, when a thick cloud will 
be thrown over the cause of liberty and the future prospects of our country. 


BANK, MARCH 26, 1834. 

The question being upon granting leave to Mr. Webster to introduce into tne 
Senate a bill to recharter, for the term of six years, the Bank of the United 
States, with modifications : 

I rise, said Mr. Calhoun, in order to avail myself of an early opportunity to 
express my opinion on the measure proposed by the senator from iMassachu- 
setts, and the questions immediately connected with it, under the impression 
that, on a subject so intimately connected with the interests of every class in 
the community, there should be an early declaration of their sentiments by the 
members of tlus body, so that all might know what to expect, and on what to 

I shall vote for the motion of the senator, not because I approve of the meas- 
ure he proposes, but because I consider it due in courtesy to grant leave, un- 
less there be strong reasons to the contrary, which is not the case in this in- 
stance ; but while I am prepared to vote for his motion, and, let me add, to do 
ample justice to his motives for introducing the bill, I cannot approve of the 
measure he proposes. In every view which 1 have been able to take, it is ob- 
jectionable. Among the objections, I place the uncertainty as to its object. It 
is left perfectly open to conjecture whether a renewal of the charter is intend- 
ed, or a mere continuance, with the view of affording the Bank time to wind up 
its afi'airs ; and what increases the uncertainty is, if we compare the provisions 
of the proposed bill with the one or the other of these objects, it is equally un- 
suited to either. If a renewal of the charter be intended, six years is too short ; 
if a continuance, too long. I, however, state this as a minor objection. There 
is another of far more decisive character : it settles nothing ; it leaves every- 
thing unfixed ; it perpetuates the present struggle, which so injuriously agitates 

the country — a struggle of bank against bank — of one set of opinions against 
another ; and prolongs the whole, without even an intervening armistice, to the 
year 1842 : a period that covers two presidential terms, and, by inevitable con- 
sequence, running, for two successive presidential elections, the politics of the 
country into the Bank question, and the Bank question into politics, with the 
mutual corruption which must be engendered ; keeping, during the whole peri- 
od, the currency of the country, which the public interest requires should have 
the utmost stability, in a state of uncertainty and fluctuation. 

But why should I pursue the objections to the plan proposed by the senator ? 
He himself acknowledged the measure to be defective, and that he would pre- 
fer one of a more permanent character. He has not proposed this as the best 
measure, but has brought it forward under a supposed necessity — under the im- 
pression that something must be done — something prompt and immediate, to re- 
lieve the existing distress which overspreads the land. I concur with him in 
relation to the distress, that it is deep and extensive ; that it fell upon us sudden- 
ly, and in the midst of prosperity almost unexampled ; that it is daily consign- 
ing hundreds to poverty and misery ; blasting the hopes of the enterprising ; 
taking employment and bread from the labourer ; and working a fearful change in 
the relative condition of the money dealers on one side, and the man of busi- 
ness on the other — raising the former rapidly to the top of the wheel, while it 
is whirling the latter, with equal rapidity, to the bottom. While I thus agree 
with the senator as to the distress, I am also sensible that there are great pub- 
lic emergencies in which no permanent relief can be afforded, and when the 
wisest are obliged to resort to expedients : to palliate and to temporize, in order 
to gain time with a view to apply a more effectual remedy. But there are also 
emergencies of precisely the opposite character : when the best and most per- 
manent is the only practicable measure, and when mere expedients tend but to 
distract, to divide, and confound, and thereby to delay or defeat all relief ; and 
such, viewed in all its relations and bearing, I consider the present ; and that 
the senator from Massachusetts has not also so considered it, I attribute to the 
fact that, of the two questions blended in the subject under consideration, he 
has given an undue prominence to that which has by far the least relative im- 
portance — I mean those of the Bank and of the currency. As a mere bank 
question, as viewed by the senator, it would be a matter of but little importance 
whether the renewal should be for six years or for a longer period ; and a pref- 
erence might very properly be given to one or the other, as it might be suppo- 
sed most likely to succeed ; but I must say, that, in my opinion, in selecting the 
period of six years, he has taken that which will be much less likely to succeed 
than one of a reasonable and proper duration. But had he turned his view to the 
other and more prominent question involved ; had he regarded the question as 
a question of currency, and that the great point was to give it uniformity, per- 
manency, and safety ; that, in effecting these essential objects, the Bank is a 
mere subordinate agent, to be vised or not to be used, and to be modified, as to 
its duration and other provisions, wholly in reference to the higher question of 
the currency, I cannot think that he would ever have proposed the measure 
which he has brought forward, which leaves, as I have already said, everything 
connected with the subject in a state of uncertainty and fluctuation. 

All feel that the currency is a delicate subject, requiring to be touched with 
the utmost caution ; but in order that it may be seen as well as felt why it is 
so delicate, why slight touches, either in depressing or elevating it, agitate and 
convulse the whole community, I will pause to explain the cause. If we take | 
the aggregate property of a community, that which forms the currency consti- i 
tutes, in value, a very small proportion of the whole. What this proportion is 
in our country and other commercial and trading communities, is somewhat un- 
certain. I speak conjecturally in fixing it as one to twenty-five or thirty, though 
I presume that is not far from the truth ; and yet this small proportion of the 

property of the community regulates the value of all the rest, and forms the me- 
dium of circulation by which all its exchanges are effected ; bearing, in this re- 
spect a striking similarity, considering the diversity of the subjects, to the blood 
in the human or animal system. 

If we turn our attention to the laws which govern the circulation, we shall 
find one of the most important to be, that, as the circulation is decreased or in- 
creased the rest of the property will, all other circumstances remaining the 
same be decreased or increased in value exactly in the same proportion. To 
illustrate : If a community should have an aggregate amount of property of thir- 
ty-one millions of dollars, of which one million constitutes its currency ; and 
that one million should be reduced one tegth part, that is to say, one hundred 
thousand dollars, the value of the rest will be reduced in like manner one tenth 
part, that is, three millions of dollars. And here a very important fact dis- 
closes itself, which explains why the currency should be touched with such 
delicacy, and why stability and uniformity are such essential qualities ; I mean 
that a small absolute reduction of the currency makes a great absolute reduction 
of the value of the entire property of the community, as we see in the case pro- 
posed ; where a reduction of one hundred thousand dollars in the currency re- 
duces the aggregate value of property three millions of dollars — a sum thirty 
times greater than the reduction of the currency. From this results an impor- 
tant consideration. If we suppose the entire currency to be in the hands of one 
portion of the community, and the property in the hands of the other portion, 
the former, by having the currency under their exclusive control, might control 
the value of all the property in the community, and possess themselves of it at 
their pleasure. Take the case already selected, and suppose that those who 
hold the currency diminish it one half by abstracting that amount from circula- 
tion : the effect of which would be to reduce the circulation to five hundred 
thousand dollars ; the value of property would also be reduced one half, that is, 
fifteen millions of dollars. Let the process be reversed, and the money abstract- 
ed gradually restored to circulation, and the value of the property would again 
be increased to thirty millions. It must be obvious that, by alternating these 
processes, and purchasing at the point of the greatest depression, when the cir- 
culation is the least, and selling at the point of the greatest elevation, when it is 
the fullest, the supposed moneyed class, who could at pleasure increase or di- 
minish the circulation, by abstracting or restoring it, might also at pleasure con- 
trol the entire property of the country. Let it be ever borne in mind, that the 
exchangeable value of the circulating medium, compared with the property and 
the business of the community, remains fixed, and can never be diminished or 
increased by increasing or dilninishing its quantity ; while, on the contrary, the 
exchangeable value of the property, compared to the cj^rency, must increase 
or decrease with every addition or diminution of the latter^ It results, from this, 
that there is a dangerous antagonist relation between those who hold or com- 
mand the currency and the rest of the community ; "tut, fortunately for the coun- 
try, the holders of property and of the currency are so blended as not to consti- 
tute separate classes. Yet it is worthy of remark — it deserves strongly to at- 
tract the attention of those who have charge of the public affairs — that under 
the operation of the banking system, and that peculiar description of property ex- 
isting in the shape of credit or stock, public and private, which so strikingly dis- 
tinguishes modern society from all that preceded it, there is a strong tendency 
to create a separate moneyed interest, accompanied with all the dangers which 
must necessarily result from such interest, and which deserves to be most care- 
fully watched and restricted. 

I do not stand here the partisan of any particular class in society — the rich 
or the poor, the property holder or the money holder ; and, in making these re- 
marks, I am not actuated by the slightest feeling of opposition to the latter. 
My object is simply to point out important relations that exist between them, re- 

suiting irom me laws wnicn govern tne currency, in order that the necessity 
for a uniform, stable, and safe currency, to guard against dangerous control of 
one class over another, may be clearly seen. I stand in my place simply as a 
senator from South Carolina, to represent her on this floor, and to advance the 
common interest of these states as far as we have the constitutional power, and 
as far as it can be done consistently with equity and justice to the parts. I am 
the partisan, as I have said, of no class, nor, let me add, of any political party. 
I am neither of the opposition nor of the administration. If I act with the former 
in any instance, it is because I approve of the course on the particular occasion ; 
and I shall always be happy to act with them when I do approve. If I oppose 
the administration — if I desire to see power change hands— it is because I dis- 
approve of the general course of those in authority — because they have depart- 
ed from the principles on which they came into 'office — because, instead of usint? 
the immense power and patronage put in their hands to secure the liberty of the 
country and advance the public good, they have perverted them into party in- 
struments for personal objects. But mine has not been, nor will it be, a syste- 
matic opposition. Whatever measure of theirs I may deem right, I shall cheer- 
fully support ; and I only desire that they shall aflbrd me more frequent occa- 
sions for support, and fewer for opposition, than they have heretofore done. 

With these impressions, and entertaining a deep conviction that an unfixed, 
unstable, and fluctuating currency is to be ranked among the most fruitful sour- 
ces of evil, whether viewed politically, or in reference to the business transac- 
tions of the country, I cannot give my consent to any measure that does not 
place the currency on a solid foundation. If I thought this determination would 
delay the relief so necessary to mitigate the present calamity, it would be to me 
a subject of the deepest regret. I feel that sympathy which I trust I ought, for 
the suflering of so many of my fellow-citizens, who see their hopes daily with- 
ered. I, however, console myself with the reflection that delay will not be 
the result, but, on the contrary, relief will be hastened by the view which I 
take of the subject. I hold it impossible that anything can be effected, regard- 
ing the subject as a mere bank question. Viewed in that light, the opinion of 
this house, and of the other branch of Congress, is probably definitively made 
up. In the Senate, it is known that we have three parties,' whose views, con- 
sidering it as a bank question, appear to be irreconcilable. All hope, then, of 
relief, must centre in taking a more elevated view, and in considering it, in its 
true light, as a subject of currency. Thus regarded, I shall be surprised if, on 
full investigation, there will not appear a remarkable coincidence of opinion, 
even between those whose views, on a slight inspection, would seem to be con- 
tradictory. Let us, then, proceed to the investigation of the subject under the 
aspect which I have proposed. 

What, then, is the currency of the United States? What its present state 
and condition ? These are the questions which I propose now to consider, with 
a view of ascertaining what is the disease, what the remedy, and what the 
means of applying it, that may be necessary to restore our currency to a sound 

The legal currency of this country — that in which alone debts can be dis- 
charged according to law — are certain gold, silver, and copper coins authorized 
by Congress under an express provision of the Constitution. Such is the law. 
What, now, are the facts ? That the currency consists almost exclusively of 
bank-notes, gold having entirely disappeared, and silver, in a great measure, 
expelled by banks instituted by twenty-five distinct and independent powers, 
and iiotes issued under the authority of the direction of those institutions. They 
are, in point of fact, the mint of the United States, They coin the actual 
money (for such we must call bank-notes), and regulate its issue, and, conse- 
quently, its value. If we inquire as to their number, the amount of their issue, 
and other circumstances calculated to show their actual condition, we shall find 


that, so rapid has been their increase, and so various their changes, that no ac- 
curate information can be had. According to the latest and best that I have 
been able to obtain, they number at least four hundred and fifty, with a capital 
of not less than one hundred and forty-five millions of dollars, with an issue ex- 
ceedino' seventy millions ; and the whole of this immense fabric standing on a 
metallic currency of less than fifteen millions of dollars, of which the greater 
part is held by the Bank of the United States. If we compare the notes in 
circulation with the metallic currency in their vaults, we shall find the propor- 
tion about six to one ; and if we compare the latter with the demands that may 
be made upon the banks, we shall find that the proportion is about one to elev- 
en. If we examine the tendency of the system at this moment, we shall find 
that it is on the increase — rapidly on the increase. There is now pending a 
project of a ten million bank before the Legislature of New- York ; but recently 
one of five millions was established in Kentucky ; within a short period one of 
a large capital was established in Tennessee, besides others in agitation in 
several of the other states (here Mr. Porter, of Louisiana, said that one of 
eleven millions had just been established in that state). 

This increase is not accidental. It may be laid down as a law, that, where 
two currencies are permitted to circulate in any country, one of a cheap and 
the other of a dear material, the former necessarily tends to grow upon the lat- 
ter, and will ultimately expel it from circulation, unless its tendency to increase 
be restrained by a powerful and efficient check. Experience tests the truth of 
this remark, as the history of the banking system clearly illustrates. The sen- 
ator from Massachusetts truly said that the Bank of England was derived from 
that of Amsterdam, as ours, in turn, are from that of England. Throughout its 
progress, the truth of what I have stated to be a law of the system is strongly 
evinced. The Bank of Amsterdam was merely a bank of deposite — a storehouse 
for the safe-keeping of the bullion and precious metals brought into that com- 
mercial metropolis, through all the channels of its widely-extended trade. It 
was placed under the custody of the city authorities ; and on the deposite, a cer- 
tificate was issued as evidence of the fact, which was transferable, so as to en- 
title the holder to demand the return. An important fact was soon disclosed — 
that a large portion of the deposites might be withdrawn, and that the residue 
would be sulficient to meet the returning certificates ; or, what is the same in 
eflfect, that certificates might be issued without making a deposite. This sug- 
gested the idea of a bank of discount as well as deposite. The fact thus dis- 
closed fell too much in with the genius of the system to be lost, and, accord- 
ingly, when transplanted to England, it suggested the idea of a bank of discount 
and of deposite ; the very essence of which form of banking, that on which their 
profit depends, consists in issuing a greater amount of notes than it has specie 
in its vaults. But the system is regularly progressing, under the impulse of the 
laws that govern it, from its present form to a mere paper machine — a machine 
for fabricating and issuing notes, not convertible into specie. Already has it 
once reached this condition, both in England and the United States, and from 
which it has been forced back, in both, to a redemption of its notes with great 

The natural tendency of the system is accelerated in our country by pecu- 
liar causes, which have greatly increased its progress. There are two power- 
ful causes in operation. The one resulting from that rivalry which must ever 
take place in states situated, as ours are, under one General Government, and 
having a free and open commercial intercourse. The introduction of the bank- 
ing system in one state necessarily, on this principle, introduces it into all the 
others, of which we have seen a striking illustration on the part of Virginia 
and some of the other Southern States, which entertained, on principle, strong 
aversion to the system ; yet they were compelled, after a long and stubborn re- 
sistance, to yield their objections, or permit their circulation to be furnished by 

The same cause which thus compels one state to imitate the example of an- 
other in introducing the system from self-defence, will compel the other states, in 
like manner, and from the same cause, to enlarge and give increased activity 
to the banking operation, whenever any one of the states sets the example of 
so doino- on its part ; and thus, by mutual action and reaction, the whole sys- 
tem is rapidly accelerated to the final destiny which I have assigned. 

This is strikingly exemplified in the rapid progress of the system since its 
first introduction into our country. At the adoption of our Constitution, forty- 
five years ago, there were but three banks in the United States, the amount of 
whose capital I do not now recollect, but it was very small. In this short 
space, they have increased to four hundred and fifty, with a capital of one hun- 
dred and forty-five millions, as has already been stated : an increase exceeding 
nearly a hundred fold the increase of our wealth aiid population, as great as 
they have been. 

But it is not in numbers only that they have increased : there has, in the 
same time, been a rapid advance in the proportion which their notes in circu- 
lation bear to the specie in their vaults. Some twenty or thirty years ago, it 
was not considered safe for the issues to exceed the specie by more than two 
and a half or three for one ; but now, taking the whole, and including the Bank 
of the United States with the state banks, the proportion is about six to one ; 
and excluding that Bank, it would very greatly exceed that proportion. This 
increase of paper in proportion to metal results from a cause which deserves 
much more notice than it has heretofore attracted. It originates mainly in the 
number of the banks. I will proceed to illustrate it. 

The senator from New-York (Mr. Wright), in assigning his reasons for be- 
lieving the Bank of the United States to be more dangerous than those of the 
states, said that one bank was more dangerous than many. That in some re- 
spects may be true ; but in one, and that a most important one, it is strikingly 
the opposite — I mean in the tendency of the system to increase. Where there 
is but one bank, the tendency to increase is not near so strong as where there 
are many, as illustrated in England, where the system has advanced much less 
rapidly, in proportion to the wealth and population of the kingdom, than in the 
United States. But where there is no limitation as to their number, the in- 
crease will be inevitable, so long as banking continues to be among the most 
certain, eligible, and profitable employments of capital, as now is the case. 
With these inducements, there must be constant application for new banks, 
whenever there is the least prospect of profitable employment — banks to be 
founded mainly on nominal and fictitious capital, and adding but little additional 
capital to that already in existence — and with our just and natural aversion to 
monopoly, it is difficult, on principles of equality and justice, to resist such ap- 
plication. The admission of a new bank tends to diminish the profits of the 
old, and, between the aversion of the old to reduce their income and the desire 
of the new to acquire profits, the result is an enlargement of discounts, effected 
by a mutual spirit of forbearance ; an indisposition on the part of each to oppress 
the other ; and, finally, the creation of a common feeling to stigmatize and oppose 
those, whether banks or individuals, who demand specie in payment of their 
notes. This community of feeling, which ultimately identifies the whole as a 
peculiar and distinct interest in the community, increases, and becomes more and 
more intense, just in proportion as banks multiply ; as they become, if I may 
use the expression, too populous, when, from the pressure of increasing num- 
bers, there results a corresponding increase of issues, in proportion to their 
means, which explains the present extraordinary disproportion between specie 
and notes in those states where banks have been most multiplied ; equal, in 
some, to sixteen to one. There results from this state of things some pohtical 
considerations, which demand the profound attention of all who value the liberty 
and peace of the country. 

While the banking system rests on a solid foundation, there will be, on their 
part, but little depcndance on the government, and but little means by which the 
government can influence them, and as little disposition on the part of the 
banks to be connected with the government ; but in the progress of the system, 
when their number is greatly multiplied, and their issues, in proportion to their 
means, are correspondingly increased, the condition of the banks becomes more 
and more critical. Every adverse event in the commercial world, or political 
movement that disturbs the existing state of things, agitates and endangers them. 
They become timid and anxious for their safety, and necessarily court those in 
power, in order to secure their protection. Property is, in its nature, timid, and 
seeks protection, and nothing is more gratifying to government than to become 
a protector. A union is the result ; and when that union takes place — when the 
government, in fact, becomes the bank direction, regulating its favours and ac- 
commodation — the downfall of liberty is at hand. Are there no indications that 
we are not far removed from this state of things ? Do we not behold in those 
events which have so deeply agitated us within the last few months, and which 
have interrupted all the business transactions of this community, a strong ten- 
dency to this union on the part of a department of this government, and a por- 
tion of the banking system ? Has not this union been, in fact, consummated in 
the largest and most commercial of the states ? What is the safety-fund system 
of New-York but a union between the banks and the state, and a consummation 
by law of that community of feeling in the banking system which I have at- 
tempted to illustrate, the object of which is to extend their discounts, and to ob 
tain which, the interior banks of that state have actually put themselves under 
the immediate protection of the government ? The effects have been striking. 
Already have they become substantially mere paper machines, several having 
not more than from one to two cents in specie to the dollar, when compared 
with their circulation ; and, taking the aggregate, their average condition will 
be foimd to be but little better. I care not, said Mr. C, whether the present 
commissioners are partisans of the present state administration or not, or 
w^hether the assertion of the senator from New- York (Mr. Wright), that the 
government of the state has not interfered in the control of these institutions, be 
correct. Whether it has taken place or not, interference is inevitable. In such 
state of weakness, a feeling of dependance is unavoidable, and the control of 
the government over the action of the banks, whenever that control shall be- 
come necessary to subserve the ambition or the avarice of those in power, is 

Such is the strong tendency of our banks to terminate their career in the pa- 
per system — in an open suspension of specie payment. Whenever that event 
occurs, the progress of convulsion and revolution will be rapid. The currency 
will become local, and each state will have a powerful interest to depreciate 
its currency more rapidly than its neighbour, as moans, at the same time, of ex- 
empting itself from the taxes of the government, and drawing the commerce of 
the country to its ports. This was strongly exemplified after the suspension 
of specie payment during the late war, when the depreciation made the most 
rapid progress, till checked by the establishment of the present Bank of the Uni- 
ted States, and when the foreign trade of the country was as rapidly conver- 
ging to the point of the greatest depreciation, with a view of exemption from du- 
ties, by paying in the debased currency of the place. 

What, then, is the disease which afflicts the system ? what the remedy ? and 
what the means of applying it ? These are the questions which I shall next 
proceed to consider. What I have already stated points out the disease. It 
consists in a great and growing disproportion between the metallic and paper 
circulation of the country, effected through the instrumentality of the banks : a 
disproportion daily and hourly increasing, under the impulse of most powerful 
causes, which are rapidly accelerating the country to that state of convulsion 

ana revoimion wiucii i nave inaicaiea. i ne remedy is to arrest its tuture proo-- 
ress, and to diminish the existing disproportion — to increase the metals and to 
diminish the paper — advancing till the currency shall be restored to a sound, 
safe, and settled condition. On these two points all must be agreed. There 
is no man of any party, capable of reflecting, and who will take the pains to in- 
form himself, but must agree that our currency is in a dangerous condition, and 
that the danger is increasing ; nor is there any one who can doubt that the only 
safe and effectual remedy is to diminish this disproportion to which I have re- 
ferred. Here the extremes unite : the senator from Missouri (Mr. Benton), 
and the senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Webster), who stands here as the able 
and strenuous advocate of the banking system, are on this point united, and must 
move from it in the same direction : though it may be the design of the one to 
go through, and of the other to halt after a moderate advance. 

There is another point on which all must be agreed — that the remedy must 
be gradual — the change from the present to another and sounder condition, slow 
and cautious. The necessity for this results from that highly delicate nature 
of currency which I have already illustrated. Any sudden and great chant^e 
from our present to even a sounder condition would agitate and convulse socie- 
ty to the centre. On another point there can be but little disagreement. What- 
ever may be the different theoretical opinions of the members of the Senate as 
to the extent to which the reformation of the currency should be carried, even 
those who think it may be carried practically and safely to the restoration of a 
metallic currency, to the entire exclusion of paper, must agree that the restora- 
tion ought not to be carried farther than a cautious and slow experience shall 
prove that it can be done, consistently with the prosperity of the country, in the 
existing fiscal and commercial condition of the world. To go beyond the point 
to which experience shall show it is proper to go, would be to sacrifice the pub- 
lic interest merely to a favourite conception. There may be ultimately a disa- 
greement of opinion where that point is, but, since all must be agreed to move 
forward in the same direction and at the same pace, let us set out in the spirit 
of harmony and peace, though we intend to stop at different points. It may be 
that, enlightened by experience, those who intended to stop at the nearest point 
may be disposed to advance farther, and that those who intended the farthest, 
may halt on this side, so that finally all may agree to terminate the journey to- 

Th^ brings us to the question of how shall so salutary a change be effected ? 
What the means, and the mode of application ? A great and difficult question, 
on which some diversity of opinion may be expected. 

No one can be more sensible than I am of the responsibility that must be in- 
curred in proposing measures on questions of so much magnitude, and which, 
in so distracted a state, must affect seriously great and influential interests. 
But this is no time to shun responsibihty. The danger is great and menacing, 
and delay hazardous, if not ruinous. While, however, I would not shun, I have 
not sought the responsibility. I have waited for others ; and, had any one pro- 
posed an adequate remedy, I would have remained silent. And here, said Mr. 
Calhoun, let me express the deep regret which I feel that the administration, 
with all that weight of authority which belongs to its power and immense pat- 
ronage, had not, instead of the deposite question, which has caused such agita- 
tion and distress, taken up the great subject of the currency ; examined it grave- 
ly and deliberately in all its bearings ; pointed out its diseased condition ;' des- 
ignated the remedy, and proposed some safe, gradual, and effectual means of 
applying it. Had that course been pursued, my zealous and hearty co-opera- 
tion would not have been wanting. Permit me, also, to express a similar re- 
gret that the administration, having failed in this great point of duty, the oppo- 
sition, with all its weight and talents, headed on this question by the distinguish- 
ed and able senator from Massachusetts, who is so capable of comprehending 


or iIjCjK/hi:'-^ 

this subject in all its bearings, had not brought forward, under its auspices, some 
permanent system of measures, based upon a deliberate and mature investiga- 
tion into the cause of the existing disease, and calculated to remedy the disor- 
dered state of the currency. What might have been brought forward by them 
■with such fair prospects of success, has been thrown on more incompetent hands, 
unaided by patronage or influence, save only that power which truth clearly 
developed, and honestly and zealously advanced, may be supposed to possess, 
and on which I must wholly rely. 

But to return to the subject. Whatever diversity of sentiment there may be 
as to the means, on one point all must be agreed : nothing effectual can be done, 
no check interposed to restore or arrest the progress of the system, by the ac- 
tion of the states. The reasons already assigned to prove that banking by one 
state compels all others to bank, and that the excess of banking in one in like 
manner compels all others to like excess, equally demonstrate that it is impossi- 
ble for the states, acting separately, to interpose any means to prevent the catas- 
trophe which certainly awaits the system, and perhaps the government itself, un- 
less the great and growing danger to which I refer be timely and effectually 
arrested. There is no power anywhere but in this government — the joint agent 
of all the states, and through which a concert of action can be effected adequate 
to this great task. The responsibility is upon us, and upon us alone. The 
means, if means there be, must be applied by our hands, or not applied at all — 
a consideration, in so great an emergency, and in the presence of such imminent 
danger, calculated, I should suppose, to arouse even the least patriotic. 

What means do we possess, and how can they be applied ? 

If the entire banking system was under the immediate control of the Gener- 
al Government, there would be no difficulty in devising a safe and effectual 
remedy to restore the equilibrium, so desirable, between the specie and the pa- 
per which compose our currency. But the fact is otherwise. With the ex- 
ception of the Bank of the United States, all the other banks owe their origin 
to the authority of the several states, and are under their immediate control, 
which presents the great difficulty experienced in devising the proper means 
of effecting the remedy Avhich all feel to be so desirable. 

Among the means which have been suggested, a senator from Virginia, not 
now a member of this body (Mr. Rives), proposed to apply the taxing power to 
suppress the circulation of small notes, with a view of diminishing the- paper 
and increasing the specie circulation. The remedy would be simple and effect- 
ive, but is liable to great objection. The taxing power is odious under any 
circumstances ; it would be doubly so when called into exercise with an over- 
flowing treasury ; and still more so, with the necessity of organizing an expen- 
sive body of officers to collect a single tax, and that of an inconsiderable 
amount. But there is another, and of itself a decisive objection. It would be 
unconstitutional — palpably and dangerously so. All political powers, as I sta- 
led on another occasion, are trust powers, and limited in their exercise by the 
subject and object of the grant. The tax power was granted to raise revenue 
for the sole purpose of supplying the necessary means of carrj'ing on the oper- 
ations of the government. To pervert this power from the object thus intend- 
ed by the Constitution, to that of suppressing the circulation of bank-notes, 
would be to convert it from a revenue into a penal power — a power in its nature 
and object essentially different from that intended to be granted in the Consti- 
tution ; and a power which in its full extension, if once admitted, would be suf- 
ficient of itself to give an entire control to this government over the property 
and the pursuits of the community, and thus concentrate and consolidate in it 
the entire power of the system. 

Rejecting, then, the taxing power, there remains two obvious and direct 
means in possession of the government, which may be brought into action to 
effect the object intended, but neither of which, either separately or jointly, is 

m sumcieni emcacy, aowever inaispensaoie mey may oe as a pan ot an etti- 
cient system of measures, to correct the present, or repress the growing disor- 
ders of the currency ; I mean that provision in the Constitution which empow- 
ers Congress to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and 
the power of prohibiting anything but the legal currency to be received, either 
in whole or in part, in the dues of the government. The mere power of coining 
, and regulating the value of coins, of itself, and unsustained by any other meas- 
1 ure, can exercise but a limited control over the actual currency of the country, 
and is inadequate to check excess or correct disorder, as is demonstrated by the 
present diseased state of the currency. Congress has had, from the beginninor, 
iaws upon the statute-books to regulate the value of coins ; and at an early pe- 
riod of the government the mint was erected, and has been in active operation 
ever since ; and yet, of the immense amount which has been coined, a small res- 
idue only remains in the country, the great body having been expelled under 
the banking system. To give efficiency to this power, then, some other must 
be combined with it. The most immediate and obvious is that which has been 
suggested — of excluding all but specie in the receipts of the government. This 
measure would be eflectual to a certain extent ; but with a declining income, 
which must take place under the operation of the act of the last session, to ad- 
just the tariff, and which must greatly reduce the revenue (a point of the ut- 
most importance to the reformation and regeneration of our institutions), the effi- 
cacy of the measure must be correspondingly diminished. From the nature 
of things, it cannot greatly exceed the average of the government deposites, 
which I hope will, before many years, be reduced to the smallest possible 
amount, so as to prevent the possibility of the recurrence of the shameful and 
dangerous state of things which now exists, and which has been caused by the 
vast amount of the surplus revenue. But there is, in 7mj opinion, a strong ob- 
jection against resorting to this measure, resulting from the fact that an exclu- 
sive receipt of specie in the treasury would, to give it efficacy, and to prevent 
extensive speculation and fraud, require an entire disconnexion on the part of 
the government with the banking system in all its forms, and a resort to the 
strong box as the means of preserving and guarding its funds — a means, if prac- 
ticable, in the present state of things liable to the objection of being far less 
safe, economical, and efficient than the present. 

What, then, Mr. Calhoun inquired, what other means do we possess, of suffi- 
cient efficacy, in combination with those to which I have referred, to arrest its 
progress, and correct the disordered state of the currency ? This is the deeply- 
important question, and here some division of opinion must be expected, how- 
ever united we may be, as I trust we are thus far, on all other points. I intend 
to meet this question explicitly and directly, without reservation or concealment. 
After a full survey of the whole subject, I see none : I can conjecture no 
means of extricating the country from the present danger, and to arrest its far- 
ther increase, but a Bank — the agency of which, in some form, or under some 
authority, is indispensable. The country has been brought into the present dis- 
tressed state of currency by banks, and must be extricated by their agency. 
We must, in a word, use a bank to unbank the banks, to the extent that may be 
necessary to restore a safe and stable currency — just as we apply snow to a 
frozen limb in order to restore vitality and circulation, or hold up a burn to the 
flame to extract the inflammation. All must see that it is impossible to sup- 
press the banking system at once. It must continue for a time. Its greatest 
enemies, and the advocates of an exclusive specie circulation, must make it a 
part of their system to tolerate the banks for a longer or a shorter period. To 
suppress them at once would, if it were possible, work a greater revolution — a 
greater change in the relative condition of the various classes of the communi- 
ty, than would the conquest of the country by a savage enemy. What, then, 
must be done ? I answer, a new and safe system must gradually grow up un- 


der, and replace the old ; imitating, in this respect, the beantifiil process which 
we ' sometimes see of a wounded or diseased part in a living organic body 
gradually superseded by the healing process of nature. 

How is this to be effected 1 How is a bank to be used as the means of cor- 
rectintr the excess of the banking system ? and Avhat bank is to be selected as 
the af^ent to eifect this salutary change ? I know, said ]Mr. C, that a diversity 
of opmion will be found to exist, as to the agent to be selected, among those 
who ao-ree on every other point, and who, in particular, agree on the necessity 
of usin""- some bank as the means of effecting the object intended : one prefer- 
ring a simple recharter of the existing Bank, another the charter of a new Bank 
of the United States ; a third, a new Bank ingrafted upon the old ; and a fourth, 
the use of the state banks as the agent. I wish, said Mr. C, to leave all these 
as open questions, to be carefully surveyed and compared with each other, 
calmly and dispassionately, without prejudice or party feeling ; and that to be 
selected which, on the Avhole, shall appear to be best, the most safe, the most 
efficient, the most prompt in application, and the least liable to consthutional 
objections. It would, however, be wanting in candour on my part not to de- 
clare that my impression is, that a new Bank of the United States, ingrafted 
upon the old, will be found, under all the circumstances of the case, to combine 
the greatest advantages, and to be liable to the fewest objections ; but this im- 
pression is not so firmly fixed as to be inconsistent Avith a calm review of the 
whole ground, or to prevent my yielding to the convictron of reason, should the 
result of such review prove that any other is preferable. Among its pecrdiar 
recommendations may be ranked the consideration that, while it would afford the 
means of a prompt and effectual application for mitigating and finally removing 
the existing distress, it would, at the same time, open to the whole community a 
fair opportunity of participation in the advantages of the institution, be they what 
they may. 

Let us, then, suppose (in order to illustrate, and not to indicate a preference) 
that the present Bank be selected as the agfent to effect the intended object. 
What provisions will be necessary ? I will suggest those that have occurred to 
me, mainly, however, with a view of exciting the reflections of those much 
more familiar with banking operations than myself, and who, of course, are more 
competent to form a correct judgment of their practical effect. 

Let, then, the Bank charter be renewed for twelve years after the expiration 
of the present term, with such modifications and limitations as may be judged 
proper ; and that after that period it shall issue no notes imder ten dollars — that 
government shall not receive in its dues any sum less tban ten dollars, except 
in the legal coins of the United States ; that it shall not receive in its dues the 
notes of any bank that issues notes of a denomination less than five dollars ; 
and that the United States Bank shall not receive in payment, or on deposite, 
the notes of any bank whose notes are not receivable in the dues of the govern- 
ment, nor the notes of any bank which may receive the notes of any bank whose 
notes are not receivable by the government. At the expiration of s-ix years from 
the commencement of the renewed charter, let the Bank be prohibited from is- 
suing any note under twenty dollars, and let no sum imder that amount be re- 
ceived in dues of the government, except in specie ; and let the value of gold be 
raised at least equal to that of silver, to take effect immediately ,- so that the 
country may be replenished with the coin, the lightest and the most portable 
in proportion to its value, to take the place of the receding bank-notes. It is 
unnecessary for me to state, that at present the standard value of gold is less 
than that of silver ; the necessary effect of which has been to expel gold entire- 
ly from circulation, and to deprive us of a coin so well calcvdated for the 
circulation of a country so great in extent, and having so vast an intercourse, 
commercial, social, and political, between all its parts, as ours. As an addition- 
al recommendation to raise its relative value, gold has, of late, become an impor- 

lina, and Georgia — to the industry of which the measure proposed would give 
a strong impulse, and which, in turn, would greatly increase the quantity pro- 

Such are the means which have occurred to me. There are members of this 
body far more competent to judge of their practical operation than myself; and 
I as my object is simply to suggest them for their reflection, and for that of others 
' who are more familiar with this part of the subject, I will not at present enter 
into an inquiry as to their efficiency, with a view of determining whether they 
are fully adequate to effect the object in view or not. There are, doubtless, others 
of a similar description, and perhaps more efficacious, that may occur to the ex- 
perienced, which I would freely embrace, as my object is to adopt the best and 
most efficient. And it may be hoped, that if, on experience, it should be found 
that neither these provisions, nor any other in the power of Congress, are fully 
adequate to effect the important reform which I have proposed, the co-operation 
of the states may be afforded, at least to the extent of suppressing the circula- 
tion of notes under five dollars, where such are permitted to be issued under 
their authority. 

I omitted, in the proper place, to state my reason for suggesting twelve years 
as the term for the renewal of the charter of the Bank. It appears to me that 
it is long enough to permit the agitation and distraction which now disturbs the 
country to subside, while it is sufficiently short to enable us to avail ourselves 
of the full benefit of the light of experience, which may be expected to be de- 
rived from the operation of the system under its new provisions. But there is 
another reason which appears to me to be entitled to great weight. The char- 
ter of the Bank of England has recently been renewed for the term of ten 
years, with very important changes, calculated to furnish much experience upon 
the nature of banking operations and currency. It is highly desirable, if 
the Bank charter should be renewed, or a new bank created, that we should 
have the full benefit of that experience before the expiration of the term, which 
would be effected by fixing the period I have designated. But as my object in 
selecting the recharter of the Bank of the United States was simply to enable 
me to present the suggestions I have made in the clearest form, and not advocate 
the recharter, I shall omit to indicate many limitations and provisions, which 
seem to me to be important to be considered, when the question of its perma- 
nent renewal is presented, should it ever be. Among others, I entirely concur 
in the suggestion of the senator from Georgia, of fixing the rate of interest at 
five per cent. — a suggestion of importance, and to which but one objection can, 
in my opinion, be presented — I mean the opposing interest of existing state in- 
stitutions, all of which discount at higher rates, and which may defeat any 
measure of which it constitutes a part. In addition, I will simply say that I, 
for one, shall feel disposed to adopt such provisions as are best calculated to 
secure the government from any supposed influence on the part of the Bank, or 
the Bank from any improper interference on the part of the government, or 
which may be necessary to protect the rights or interests of the states. 

Having now stated the measure necessary to apply the remedy, I am thus 
brought to the question, Can the measure succeed ? which brings up the inqui- 
ry of how far it may be expected to receive the support of the several parties 
which now compose the Senate, and on which I shall next proceed to make a 
few remarks. 

First, then, can the State Rights party give it their support ? that party of 
which I am proud of being a member, and for which I entertain so strong an 
attachment — the stronger because we are few among many. In proposing this 
question, I am not ignorant of their long-standing constitutional objection to the 
Bank, on the ground that this was intended to be, as it is usually expressed, a 
hard-money government, whose circulating medium was intended to consist of 


the precious metals, and for which object the power of coining money, and 
regulating the value thereof, was expressly conferred by the Constitution. I 
know how long and how sincerely this opinion has been entertained, and under 
how many difficulties it has been maintained. It is not my intention to attempt 
to change an opinion so firmly fixed ; but I may be permitted to make a few 
observations, in order to present Avhat appears to me to be the true question in 
reference to this constitutional point, in order that we may fully comprehend the 
circumstances under which we are placed in reference to it. 1 

With this view, I do not deem it necessary to inquire whether, in conferring 
the power to coin money, and to regulate the value thereof, the Constitution in- 1 
tended to limit the power strictly to coining money and regulating its value, or 
whether it intended to confer a more general power over the currency ; nor do I in- j 
tend to inquire whether the word coin is limited simply to the metals, or may be 
extended to other substances, if, through a gradual change, they may become the 
medium of the general circulation of the world. I pass these points. Whatever 
opinion there may be entertained in reference to them, we must all agree, as a 
fixed principle in our system of thinking on constitutional questions, that the 
power under consideration, like other powers, is a trust power ; and that, like 
all such powers, it must be so exercised as to effect the object of the trust as 
far as it may be practicable. Nor can we disagree that the object of the power 
was to secure to these states a safe, uniform, and stable currency. The nature 
of the power, the terms used to convey it, the history of the times, the necessi- 
ty, with the creation of a common government, of having a common and uniform 
circulating medium, and the power conferred to punnish those vyho, by coun- 
terfeiting, may attempt to debase and degrade the coins of the country, all pro- 
claim this to be the object. 

It is not my purpose to inquire whether, admitting this to be the object, Con- 
gress is not bound to use all the means in its power to give this safety, this sta- 
bility, this unifonnity to the currency, for which the power was conferred ; nor 
to inquire whether the states are not bound to abstain from acts, on their part, in- 
consistent with them ; nor to inquire whether the right of banking, on the part 
of a state, does not directly, and by immediate consequence, injuriously afiect 
the currency — whether the effect of banking is not to expel the specie currency, 
which, according to the assumption that this is a hard-money government, it 
was the object of the Constitution to furnish, in conferring the power to coin 
money ; or whether the effect of banking does not necessarily tend to diminish 
the value of a specie currency as certainly as clipping or reducing its weight 
would ; and whether it has not, in fact, since its introduction, reduced the val- 
ue of the coins one half. Nor do I intend to inquire whether Congress is not 
bound to abstain from all acts, on its part, calculated to affect injuriously the 
specie circulation, and whether the receiving anything but specie, in its dues. 
must not necessarily so affect it by diminishing the quantity in circulation, and 
depreciating the value of what remains. All these questions I leave open. I 
decide none of them. There is one, however, that I will decide. If Congress 
has a right to receive anything else than specie in its dues, they have the right 
to regulate its value ; and have a right, of course, to adopt all necessary and ' 
proper means, in the language of the Constitution, to effect the object. It mat- 
ters not what they receive, tobacco, or anything else, this right must attach to 
it. I do not assert the right of receiving, but I do hold it to be incontroverti- 
ble, that, if Congress were to order the dues of the government to be paid, for in- 
stance, in tobacco, they would have the right, nay, more, they would be bound 
to use all necessary and proper means to give it a uniform and stable value — ' 
inspections, appraisement, designation of qualities, and whatever else would be 
necessary to that object. So, on the same principle, if they receive bank-notes, 
they are equally bound to use all means necessary and proper, according to the 
peculiar nature of the subject, to give them unifornuty, stability, and safety. 

would, it is conceded, make them money, as far as the government may be 
concerned, and, by a necessary consequence, would make them, to a great ex- 
tent, the currency of the country. I say nothing of the positive provisions in 
the Constitution which declare that " all duties, imposts, and excises shall be 
uniform throughout the United States," which cannot be, unless that in which 
they are paid should also have, as nearly as practicable, a uniform value 
throughout the country. To effect this, if bank-notes are received, the bank- 
ing power is necessary and proper within the meaning of the Constitution ; and, 
consequently, if the government has the right to receive bank-notes in its dues, 
the power becomes constitutional. Here lies, said Mr. Calhoun, the real con- 
stitutional question : Has the government a right to receive bank-notes, or not ? 
The question is not upon the mere power of incorporating a bank, as it has 
been commonly argued ; though even in that view there would be as great a 
constitutional objection to any act on the part of the executive, or any other 
branch of the government, which should unite any association of state banks 
into one system, as the means of giving the uniformity and stability to the cur- 
rency which the Constitution intends to confer. The very act of so associa- 
ting or uniting them into one, by whatever name called, or by whatever depart- 
ment performed, would be, in fact, an act of incorporation. 

But, said Mr. Calhoun, my object, as I have stated, is not to discuss the con- 
stitutional questions, nor to determine whether the Bank be constitutional or 
not. It is, I repeat, to show where the difficulty lies : a difficulty which I have 
felt from the time I first came into the public service. I found then, as now, 
the currency of the country consisting almost entirely of bank-notes- I found 
the government intimately connected with the system : receiving bank-notes in 
its dues, and paying them away, under its appropriations, as cash. The fact was 
beyond my control ; it existed long before my time, and without my agency ; 
and I was compelled to act on the fact as it existed, without deciding on the 
many questions which I have suggested as connected with this subject, and on 
many of which I have never yet formed a definite opinion. No one can pay 
less regard to the precedent than I do, acting here, in my representative and de- 
liberative character, on legal or constitutional questions ; but I have felt from 
the beginning the full force of the distinction so sensibly taken by the senator 
from Virginia (Mr. Leigh) between doing and undoing an act, and which he 
so strongly illustrated in the case of the purchase of Louisiana. The constitu- 
tionality of that act was doubted by many at the time, and, among others, by its 
author himself; yet he would be considered a madman who, coming into polit- 
ical life at this late period, would now seriously take up the question of the 
constitutionality of the purchase, and, coming to the conclusion that it was un- 
constitutional, should propose to rescind the act, and eject from the Union two 
flourishing states and a growing territory : nor would it be an act of much less 
madness thus to treat the question of the currency, and undertake to suppress 
at once the system of bank circulation which has been growing up from the 
beginning of the government, which has penetrated into and connected itself 
with every department of our political system, on the ground that the Constitu- 
tion intended a specie circulation ; or who would treat the constitutional ques- 
tion as one to be taken up de novo, and decided upon elementary principles, 
without reference to the imperious state of facts. 

But in raising the question whether my friends of the State Rights party can 
consistently vote for the measure which I have suggested, I rest not its decision 
on the ground that their constitutional opinion in reference to the Bank is errone- 
ous. I assume their opinion to be correct — I place the argument, not on the 
constitutionality or unconstitutionality, but on wholly different ground. I lay it 
down, as an incontrovertible principle, that, admitting an act to be unconstitu- 
tional, but of such a nature that it cannot be reversed at once, or at least without 

involving gross injustice to the community, we may, under such circumstances^ 
vote for its temporary continuance, for undoing gradually, as the only practica- 
ble mode of terminating it, consistently with the strictest constitutional objects. 
The act of the last session, adjusting the tariff, furnishes an apt illustration. 
All of us believed that measure to be unconstitutional and oppressive, yet we 
voted for it without supposing that we violated the Constitution in so doing, 
although it allowed upward of eight years for the termination of the system, 
on the ground that to reverse it at once would spread desolation and ruin over 
a large portion of the country. I ask the principle in that case to be applied 
to this. It is equally as impossible to terminate suddenly the present system 
of paper currency, without spreading a desolation still wider and deeper over 
the face of the country. If it can be reversed at all — if we can ever return to 
a metallic currency, it must be by gradually undoing what we hare done, and 
to tolerate the system while the process is going on. Thus, the measure 
which I have suggested proposes, for the period of twelve years, to be follow- 
ed up by a similar process, as far as a slow and cautious experience shall prove 
we may go consistently with the public interest, even to its entire reversal, if 
experience shall prove we may go so far, which, however, I, for one, do not 
anticipate ; but the effort, if it should be honestly commenced and pursued, would 
present a case every way parallel to the instance of the tariff to which I have 
already referred. I go farther, and ask the question, Can you, consistently with 
your obligation to the Constitution, refuse to vote for a measure, if intended, in 
good faith, to effect the object already stated ? Would not a refusal to vote for 
the only means of terminating it consistently with justice, and without involving 
the horror of revolution, amount in fact, and in all its practical consequences, to 
a vote to perpetuate a state of things which all must acknowledge to be emi- 
nently unconstitutional, and highly dangerous to the liberty of the country ? 

But I know that it will be objected that the Constitution ought to be amended, 
and the power conferred in express terms. I feel the full force of the objection. 
I hold the position to be sound, that, when a constitutional question has been 
agitated involving the powers of the government, which experience shall prove 
cannot be settled by reason, as is the case of the Bank question, those who 
claim the power ought to abandon it, or obtain an express grant by an amend- 
ment of the Constitution ; and yet, even with this impression, I would, at the 
present time, feel much, if not insuperable objection, to vote for an amendment, 
till an effort shall be fairly made, in order to ascertain to what extent the power 
might be dispensed with, as I have proposed. 

I hold it a sound principle, that no more power should be conferred upon the 
General Government than is indispensable ; and if experience should prove that 
the power of banking is indispensable, in the actual condition of the currency 
of this country and of the world generally, I should even then think that, what- 
ever power ought to be given, should be given with such restrictions and limita- 
tions as would limit it to the smallest amount necessary, and guard it with the 
utmost care against abuse. As it is, without farther experience, we are at a 
loss to determine how little or how much would be required to correct a dis- 
ease which must, if not corrected, end in convulsions and revolution. I con- 
sider the whole subject of banking and credit as undergoing at this time, 
throughout the civilized world, a progressive change, of which I think I per- 
ceive many indications. Among the changes in progression, it appears to me 
there is a strong tendency in the banking system to resolve itself into two 
parts — one becoming a bank of circulation and exchange, for the purpose of 
regulating and equalizing the circulating medium, and the other assuming 
more the character of private banking ; of which separation there are indica- 
tions in the tendency of the English system, particularly perceptible in the late 
modification of the charter of the Bank of England. In the mean time, it would 
be wise in us to avail ourselves of the experience of the next few years befora 

seems to me, it would be advisable to pm'sue, would be the same, whether the 
power be expressly conferred or not. 

I next address myself to the members of the opposition, who principally r^ep- 
resent the commercial and manufacturing portions of the country, where the 
banking system has been the farthest extended, and where a larger portion of 
the property exists in the shape of credit than in any. other section, and to 
whom a sound and stable currency is most necessary, and the opposite most 
dangerous. You have no constitutional objection : to you it is a mere question 
of expediency. Viewed in this light, can you vote for the measure suggested ? 
A measure designed to arrest the approach of events which, I have demonstra- 
ted, must, if not arrested, create convulsions and revolutions ; and to correct a 
disease which must, if not corrected, subject the currency to continued ao-ita- 
tions and fluctuations ; and, in order to give that permanence, stability, and uni- 
formity, which is so essential to your safety and prosperity. To efiect this 
may require some diminution of the profits of banking, some temporary sacri- 
fice of interest ; but if such should be the fact, it will be compensated more 
than a hundred fold by increased security and durable prosperity. If the sys- 
tem must advance in the present course without a check, and if explosion must 
follow, remember that where you stand will be the crater — should the system 
quake, under your feet the chasm will open that will ingulf your institutions and 
your prosperity. 

Can the friends of the administration vote for this measure ? If I understand 
their views, as expressed by the senator from Missouri, behind me (Mr. Ben- 
ton), and the senator from New- York (Mr. Wright), and other distinguished 
members of the party, and the views of the President as expressed in reported 
conversations, I see not how they can reject it. They profess to be the advo- 
cates of a metallic currency. 

I propose to restore it by the most effectual measures that can be devised ; 
gradually and slowly, and to the extent that experience may show that it can 
be done consistently with a due regard to the public interest. Farther no one 
can desire to go. If the means I propose are not the best and most effectual, 
let better and more effectual be devised. If the process which I propose be too 
slow or too fast, let it be accelerated or retarded. Permit me to add to these 
views what, it appears to me, those whom I address ought to feel with deep 
and solemn obligation of duty. They are the advocates and the supporters of 
the administration. It is now conceded, almost universally, that a rash and 
precipitate act of the executive, to speak in the mildest terms, has plunged this 
country into deep and almost universal distress. You are the supporters of that 
measure — you personally incur the responsibility by that support. How are 
its consequences to terminate ? Do you see the end ? Can things remain 
as they are, with the currency and the treasury of the country under the ex- 
clusive control of the executive ? And by what scheme, what device, do you 
propose to extricate the country and the Constitution from their pres'ent dan- 
gers ? 

I have now said what I intended. I have pointed out, without reserve, what 
I beheve in my conscience to be for the public interest. May what I have said 
be received as favourably as is the sincerity with which it has been uttered. In 
conclusion, I have but to add, that, if what I have said shall in any degree con- 
tribute to the adjustment of this question, which I believe cannot be left open 
without imminent danger, I shall rejoice ; but if not, I shall at least have the 
consolation of having discharged my duty. 





I HAVE, said Mr. Calhoun, introduced this bill from a deep conviction 
that the act which it proposes to repeal is, in its tendency, subversive of our 
political institutions, and fatal to the liberty and happiness of the country j 
which I trust to be able to establish to the satisfaction of the Senate, 
should I be so fortunate as to obtain a dispassionate and favourable hear- 

In resting the repeal on this ground, it is not my intention to avail my- 
self of the objections to the details of the act, as repugnant as many of 
them are to the principles of our government. In illustration of the truth 
of this assertion, I might select that provision which vests in the Pres- 
ident, in certain cases, of which he is made the judge, the entire force of 
the country, civil, military, and naval, with the implied power of pledging 
the public faith for whatever expenditure he may choose to incur in its 
application. And, to prove how dangerous it is to vest such extraordi- 
nary powers in the executive, I might avail myself of the experience which 
we have had in the last few months of the aspiring character of that de- 
partment of the government, and which has furnished conclusive evidence 
of the danger of vesting in it even a very limited discretion. It is not for 
me to judge of the propriety of the course which the members of this 
body may think proper to pursue in reference to the question under con- 
sideration ; but I must say that I am at a loss to understand how any one, 
who regards as I do the acts to which I have referred, as palpable usur- 
pations of power, and as indicating on the part of the executive a danger- 
ous spirit of aggrandizement, can vote against the bill under considera- 
tion, and thereby virtually vote to continue in the President the extraor- 
dinary and dangerous power in question. 

But it may be said that the provision of the act which confers this pow- 
er will expire, by its own limitation, at the termination of the present 
session. It is true it will then cease to be law ; but it is no less true 
that the precedent, unless the act be expunged from the statute-book, will 
live forever, ready, on any pretext of future danger, to be quoted as an au- 
thority to confer on the chief magistrate similar, or even more dangerous 
powers, if more dangerous can be devised. We live in an eventful period> 
and, among other things, we have had, recently, some impressive lessons 
on the danger of precedents. To thein immediately we owe the act which 
has caused the present calamitous and dangerous condition of the coun- 
try ; which has been defended almost solely on the ground of precedents 
— precedents almost unnoticed at the time ; but had they not existed, or 
had they been reversed at the time by Congress, the condition of the 
country would this day be far different from what it is. With this knowl- 
edge of the facts, we must see that a bad precedent is as dangerous as 
the bad measure itself; and in some respects more so, as it may give rise 
to acts far worse than itself, as in the case to which I have alluded. In 
this view of the subject, to refuse to vote against the repeal of the act, 
and thereby constitute a precedent to confer similar, or more dangerous 
powers hereafter, would be as dangerous as to vote for an act to vest per- 
manently in the President the power in question. 

But I pass over this and other objections to the details not much less 
formidable. I take a higher stand against the act : I object to the princi- 
ple in which it originated, putting the details aside, on the ground, as I 

in their tendency, to the liberty and happiness of the country. Fortunate- 
ly, we are not left to conjecture or inference as to what these principles 
are. It was openly proclaimed, both here and elsewhere, in the debates 
of this body and the proclamation and message of the President, in which 
the act originated, that the very basis on which it rests — the assumption 
on which only it could be supported — was, that this government had the 
final and conclusive right, in the last resort, to judge of the extent of its 
powers ; and that, to execute its decision, it had the right to use all the 
means of the country, civil, military, and fiscal, not only against individ- 
uals, but against the states themselves, and all acting under their author- 
ity, whether in a legislative, executive, or judicial capacity. 

If farther evidence be required as to the nature and character of the 
act, it will be found in the history of the events in which it took its ori- 
gin. It originated, as we all know, in a controversy between this govern- 
ment and the State of South Carolina, in reference to a power which in- 
volved the question of the constitutionality of a protective tariff. I do not 
intend to give the history of this controversy ; it is sufficient for my pur- 
pose to say that the state, in maintenance of what she believed to be her 
unquestionable power, assumed the highest ground : she placed herself on 
her sovereign authority as a constituent member of this confederacy, and 
made her opposition to the encroachment on her rights through a conven- 
tion of the people, the only organ by which, according to our conception, 
the sovereign will of a state can be immediately and directly pronounced. 
This government, on its part, in resistance to the action of the state, as- 
sumed the right to trample upon the authority of the convention, and to 
look beyond the state to the individuals who compose it : not as form- 
ing a political community, but as a mere mass of insolated individuals, 
without political character or authority ; and thus asserted in the strongest 
manner, not only the right of judging of its own powers, but that of over- 
looking, in a contest for power, the very existence of the state itself, and 
of recognising, in the assertion of what it might claim to be its power, no 
other authority whatever in the system but its own. 

Such being the principle in which this bill originated, we are brought 
to the consideration of a question of the deepest import. Is an act, which 
assumes such powers for this government, consistent with the nature and 
character of our political institutions'? 

It is not my intention, in the discussion of this question, to renew the 
debate of the last session. But, in declining to renew that discussion, I 
wish to be directly understood that I do so exclusively on the ground 
that I do not feel myself justified in repeating arguments so recently ad- 
vanced ; and not on the ground that there is the least abatement of con- 
fidence in the positions then assumed, or in the decisive bearing which 
they ought to have against the act. So far otherwise, time and reflection 
have but served to confirm me in the impression which I then entertain- 
ed ; and, without repeating the arguments, I now avail myself, in this dis- 
cussion, of the positions then established, and stand prepared to vindicate 
tkem against whatever assaults maybe made upon them, come from what 
quarter they may. Without, then, reopening the discussion of the last 
session on the elementary principles of our government, which were 
then brought into controversy, I shall now proceed to take the plainest 
and most common-sense view of our political institutions, regarding them 
merely in a matter-of-fact way, in order to ascertain the parts of which 
they are composed, and the relations which they bear to each other. 

Thus regarding our institutions, we are struck, on the first view, with 
the number and complexity of the parts — with the division, classification, 


ar.Q organizaiion wiucu peivuuc cvci^ pan ui mc o^oicm. ±t i.>, m luti, 
a system of governments ; and these, in turn, are a system of departments — 
a system in which government bears the same relation to government, in 
reference to the whole, as departments do to departments, in reference to 
each particular government. As each government is made up of the le- 
gislative, executive, and judicial departments organized into one, so the 
system is made up of this government, and the state governments, in like 
manner, organized into one system. So, too, as the powers which consti- 
tute the respective governments are divided and organized into depart- 
ments, in like manner in the formation of the governments, their powers 
are classed into two distinct divisions : the one containing powers local 
and peculiar in their character, which the interests of the states require 
to be exercised by each state through a separate government ; the other 
containing those which are more general and comprehensive, and which 
can be best exercised in some uniform mode through a common govern- 
ment. The former of these divisions constitutes what, in our system, are 
known as the reserved powers, and are exercised by each state through 
its own separate government. The latter are known as the delegated 
powers, and are exercised through this, the common government of the 
several states. This division of power into two parts, with distinct and 
independent governments, regularly organized into departments, legisla- 
tive, executive, and judicial, to carry their respective parts into effect, 
constitutes the great striking and peculiar character of our system, and is 
without example in ancient or modern times ; and may be regarded as the 
fundamental distribution of power under the system, and as constituting 
its great conservative principle. 

If we extend our eyes beyond, we shall find another striking division 
between the power of the people and that of the government — between 
that inherent, primitive, creative power which resides exclusively in the 
people, and from which all authority is derived, and the delegated power 
or trust conferred upon the government to effect the object of their cre- 
ation. If we look still beyond, we shall find another and most important 
dicision. The people, instead of being united in one general community, 
are divided into twenty-four states, each forming a distinct sovereign com- 
munity, and in which, separately, the whole power of the system ulti- 
mately resides. 

If we examine how this ultimate power is called into action, we shall 
find that its only organ is a primary assemblage of the people, known un- 
der the name of a convention, through which their sovereign will is an- 
nounced, and by which governments are formed and organized. If we 
trace historically the exertion of this power in the formation of the gov- 
ernments constituting our system, we shall find that, originally, on the 
separation of the thirteen colonies from the crown of Great Britain, each 
state for itself, through its own convention, formed separate constitu- 
tions and governments, and that these governments, in turn, formed a 
league or confederacy for the purpose of exercising those powers, in the 
regulation of which the states had a common interest. But this confed- 
eracy, proving incompetent for its object, was superseded by the present 
Constitution, which essentially changed the character of the system. If 
we compare the mode of the adoption of this Constitution with that of 
the adoption of original constitutions of the several states, we shall find 
them precisely the same. In both, each state adopted the Constitution 
through its own convention, by its separate act, each for itself, and is 
only bound in consequence of its own adoption, without reference to the 
adoption of any other state. The only point in which they can be dis- 
tinguished is the mutual compact, in which each state stipulated with the 

stitution is, in fact, the Constitution of each state. In Virginia, for in 
stance, it is the Constitution of Virginia ; and so, too, this government, 
and the laws which it enacts, are, within the limits of the state, the gov- 
ernment and the laws of the state. It is, in fact, the Constitution and o-ov- 
ernment of the whole, because it is the Constitution and government of 
each part ; and not the Constitution and government of the parts because ' 
it is of the whole. The system commences with the parts, and ends with ' 
the whole. The parts are the units, and the whole the multiple, instead 
of the Avhole being a unit and the parts the fractions. Thus viewed, each 
state has two distinct Constitutions and governments — a separate Consti- 
tution and government, instituted, as I have stated, to regulate the object in 
which each has a peculiar interest j and a general one to regulate the inter- ' 
ests common to all, and binding by a common compact the whole into one 
community, in which the separate and independent existence of each 
state as a sovereign community is preserved, instead of being fused into 
a common mass. ' 

Such is our system : such are its parts, and such their relation to each 
other. I have stated no fact that can be questioned, nor have I omitted 
any that is essential which I am capable of perceiving. In reviewing the 
whole, we must be no less struck with the simplicity of the means by 
which all are blended into one, than we are by the number and complex, 
ity of the parts. I know of no system, in either respect, ancient or mod- 
ern, to be compared with it ; and can compare it to nothing but that sub- 
lime and beautiful system of which our globe constitutes a part, and to 
which it bears in many particulars so striking a resemblance. In this sys- 
tem, this government, as we have seen, constitutes a part — a prominent, 
but a subordinate part, with defined, limited, and restricted powers. 

I now repeat the question. Is the act which assumes for this government 
the right to interpret, in the last resort, the extent of its powers, and to 
enforce its interpretation against all other authority, consistent with our 
institutions % To state the question is to answer it. We mio-ht with 
equal propriety ask whether a government of unlimited poAver is consist- 
ent with one of enumerated and restricted powers. I say unlimited, for I 
would hold his understanding in low estimation who can make, practical- 
ly, any distinction between a government of unlimited powers, and one 
which has an unlimited right to construe and enforce its powers as it 
pleases ; who does not see that, to divide power, and to give one of the 
parties the exclusive right to determine what share belongs to him, is to 
annihilate the division, and to vest the whole in him who possesses the 
right "? It would be no less absurd, than for one in private life to divide 
his property with another, and vest in that other the absolute and uncon- 
ditional right to determine the extent of his share ; which would be, in 
fact, to give him the whole. Nor could I think much more highly of the 
understanding of him who does not perceive that this exclusive right, on 
the part of this government, of determining the extent of its powers, ne- 
cessarily destroys all distinction between reserved and delegated powers ; 
and that it thus strikes a fatal blow at that fundamental distribution of 
power which lies at the bottom of our system. It also, by inevitable con- 
sequence, destroys all distinction between constitutional and unconstitu- 
tional laws, making the latter to the full as obligatory as the former ; of 
Avhich we had a remarkable example when the act proposed to be repeal- 
ed was before the Senate. It is well known that the power in controver- 
sy between this government and the State of South Carolina had been 
pronounced to be unconstitutional by the legislatures of most of the . 
Southern States, and also by many of the members of this body ; and yet 


there were instances, however extraordinary it may appear, of members 
of the body voting to enforce an act which they believed to be unconsti- 
tutional, and that, too, at the hazard of civil war. As strange as such a 
course must appear, it was the natural and legitimate consequence of the 
power which the act assumed for this government, and illustrates, in the 
strongest manner imaginable, the truth of what I have advanced. But to 
proceed. This unlimited right of judging as to its powers, not only de- 
stroys, as I have stated, all distinction between constitutional and uncon- 
stitutional acts, but merges in this government the very existence of the 
separate governments of the states, by reducing them from that independ- 
ent and distinct existence, as co-governments, assigned to them in the 
system, to mere subordinate and dependant bodies, holding their power 
and existence at the mercy of this government. It stops not here — it an- 
nihilates the states themselves. The right which it assumes of trampling 
upon the authority of a Convention of the people of the states, the only 
organ through which the sovereignty of the states can exert itself, and to 
look beyond the states to the individuals who compose them, and to treat 
them as entirely destitute of all political character or power, is, in fact, 
to annihilate the states, and to transfer their sovereignty, and all their 
powers, to this government. 

If we now raise our eyes, and direct them towards that once beautiful 
system, with all its various, separate, and independent parts blended into 
one harmonious whole, we must be struck with the mighty change ! All 
have disappeared — gone — absorbed — concentrated and consolidated in this 
government, which is left alone in the midst of the desolation of the sys- 
tem, the sole and unrestricted representative of an absolute and despotic 

Will it be tolerated, that I should ask whether an act which has caused 
so complete a revolution — which has entirely subverted our political sys- 
tem, as it emanated from the hands of its creators, and reared in its place 
one in every respect so different — must not, in its consequences, prove fa- 
tal to the liberty and the happiness of these states ] Can it be necessary 
for me to prove that no other system that human ingenuity can devise, 
or imagination conceive, but that which this fatal act has subverted, can 
preserve the liberty or secure the happiness of the country 1 Need I show 
that the most difficult problem which ever was presented to the mind of 
a legislator to solve, was to devise a system of government for a country 
of such vast extent, that should at once possess sufficient power to hold 
the whole together, without, at the same time, proving fatal to liberty 1 
There never existed an example before of a free community spreading 
over such an extent of territory ; and the ablest and profoundest thinkers, 
at the time, believed it to be utterly impracticable that there should be. 
Yet this difficult problem was solved — successfully solved, by the wise 
and sagacious men who framed our Constitution. No : it was above un- 
aided human wisdom — above the sagacity of the most enlightened. It 
was the result of a fortunate combination of circumstances, co-operating 
and leading the way to its formation ; directed by that kind Providence 
which has so often and so signally disposed events in our favour. 

To solve this difficult problem, and to overcome the apparently insu- 
perable obstacle which it presents, required that peculiar division, distribu- 
tion, and organization of power which, as I have stated, so remarkably 
distinguish our system, and which serve as so many breakwaters to ar- 
rest the angry waves of power, impelled by avarice and ambition, and 
which, driven furiously over a broad and unbroken expanse, would be re- 
sistless. Of this partition and breaking up of power into separate parts, 
the most remarkable division is that between the reserved and delegated 

of the states are organized, as the great and primary departments of the 
system. It is this important division which mainly gives that expansive 
character to our institutions, by means of which they have the capacity of 
beino- spread over the vast extent of our country without exposing us on 
the one side to the danger of disunion, or on the other to the loss of lib- 
erty. Without this happy device, the people of these states, after having 
achieved their independence, would have been compelled to resolve them- 
selves into small and hostile communities, in despite of a common origin, 
a common language, and the common renown and glory acquired by their 
united wisdom and valour in the war of the Revolution, or have submitted 
quietly to the yoke of despotic power as the only alternative. 

In the place of this hdmirably-coritrived system, the act proposed to be 
repealed has erected one gl-eat consolidated government. Can it be ne- 
cessary for me to show what must be the inevitable consequences '? Need 
I prove that all consolidated governments— governments in which a sin- 
gle power predominates (for such is their essence) — are necessarily despot- 
ic, whether that po-wer be wielded by the will of one man, or that of an 
absolute and unchecked majority ] Need I demonstrate that it is, on the 
contrary, the very essence of liberty that the power should be so divided, 
distributed, and. organized, that one interest may check the other, so as 
to prevent the excessive action of the separate interests of the communi- 
ty against each other ; on the principle that organized power can only be 
checked by orgattized power V 

The truth of these doctrines was fully understood at the ti'm-e of the 
formation of this Constitution. It was then clearly foreseen and foretold 
what must be the inevitable consequences of concentrating all the powers 
of. the system in this government. Yes, we are in a state predicted, fore- 
told, prophesied from the beginning. All the calamities we have expe- 
rienced, and those which are yet to come, are the result of the consolida- 
tinor tendency of the government ; and unless that tendency be arrested 
.■ — unless we reverse our steps, all that has been foretold will certainly 
befall us^^even to the pouring out of the last vial of wrath — military des- 
potism. To this fruitful source of woes may be traced that remarkable 
-decay of public virtue ; that rapid growth of corruption and subserviendy ; 
that decline of patriotism ; that increase of faction ; that tendency to an- 
archy ; and, finally, that visible approach of the absolute power of one man 
which so lamentably characterizes the times. Should there be anyone 
seeing and acknowledging all these morbid and dangerous symptoms, but 
should doubt whether the disease is to be traced to the cause which I 
have assigned, I would ask him, To what other can it be attributed/? There 
is no event — no, not in the political or moral world, more than in the physi- 
cal — without an adequate cause. I would ask him, Does he attribute it to 
the people 1 to their want of sufficient intelligence and virtue for self-gov- 
ernment % If the true cause may be traced to them, very inelancholy 
would be our situation ; gloomy would be the prospect before us. If such 
be the fact, that out people are, indeed, incapable of self-government, I 
know of no people upon earth with whom we rhight not desire to change 
condition. When the day comes when this people shall be compelled to 
surrender self-government, a people so spirited and so long accustomed 
to liberty, it will be indeed a day of revolution, of convulsion and blood, 
such as has rarely, if ever, been witnessed in any age or countfy ; and, 
until compelled by irresistible evidence, so- fearful a cause cannot be ad- 

Can it be attributed to the nature of out system of government 1 Shall 
"We pronounce it radically defective^ and incapable of effecting the ol^ects 

be, in fact, not much less calamitous than if attributable to the people. To 
what other system could we resort 1 To a confederation 1 That has already- 
been tried, and has proved utterly inadequate. To consolidation 1 Rea- 
son and experience (as far as we have had experience) proclaim it to be 
the worst passible form. But if the cause be not in the people or the 
system, to what can it be attributed but to some misapprehension of the 
nature and character of our inst " "ions, and consequent misdirection of 
their powers or functions 1 And u , to what other misapprehension or 
misdirection, but that which directed our system towards consolidation, 
and consummated its movement in that direction in the act proposed to 
be repealed 1 That such is the fact — that this is the true explanation of 
all the symptoms of decay and corruption which I have enumerated — is, 
in reality, our only consolation ; furnishes the only hope that can be ra- 
tionally entertained of extricating- ourselves from our present calamity, 
and of averting the still greater that are impending. 

I know that there are those who take a different, but, in my opinion, a 
very superficial view of the cause of our difficulties. They attribute it 
exclusively to those who are in power, and see in the misconduct of Gen- 
eral Jackson the cause of all that has befallen us. That he has done much 
to aggravate the evil, I acknowledge with pain. I had my full share of 
responsibility in elevating him to power, and there once existed between 
us friendly relations, personal and political, and I would rejoice had he so 
continued to conduct himself as to advance the interests of the country, 
and his own reputation and fame. He certainly might have effected 
much good. He came into office under circumstances, and had a weight 
of popularity which placed much in his power, for good or for evil ; but 
either from a want of a just comprehension of the duties attached to the 
situation in which he is placed, or an indisposition to discharge them, or 
the improper influence and control of those who, unfortunately for the 
country and for himself, have acquired, through flattery and subserviency, 
an ascendency over him, he has disappointed the hopes of his friends, and 
realized the predictions of his enemies. But the question recurs. How 
happened it that he who has proved himself so illy qualified to fill the 
high station that he occupies, was elected by the people 1 If it be attrib- 
uted to a misapprehension of his qualifications, or to an undue gratitude 
for distinguished military services, which at times leads astray the most 
intelligent and virtuous people in the selection of rulers — how shall we 
explain his re-election, after he had actually proved himself so incompe- 
tent ; after he had violated every pledge which he had made previous to 
election ; after he had disregarded the principles on which he had permit- 
ted his friends and partisans to place his elevation, and had outraged the 
feelings of the community by attempting to regulate the domestic inter- 
course and relations of society 1 Shall we say that the feelings of grat- 
itude for military services outweighed all this 1 or that the people, with 
all this experience, were incapable of forming a correct opinion of his con- 
duct or character, or of understanding the tendency of the measures of 
his administration 1 To assert this would be neither more nor less than 
to assert that they have neither the intelligence nor the virtue for self- 
government ; as the very criterion by which their capacity in that respect 
is tested, is their ability duly to appreciate the character and conduct of 
public rulers, and the true tendency of their public measures ; and to ad- 
mit their incapacity in that respect would, in fact, bring- us back to the 
people as the cause. 

To understand truly how the distinguished individual now at the head 
of the nation was elevated to this exalted station, in despite of his ac- 

gk.liUWlCU" cu. ucicoia III otv^iai n;ouc\^io, aiiu liu»v lie iiao iciaiiit^u ills 

power among an intelligent and patriotic people, notwithstanding all the 
objections to his administration that have been stated, we must elevate 
our views from the individual, and his qualifications and conduct, to the 
working of the system itself, by which only we can come to a knowledge 
of the true cause of our present condition ; how we have arrived at it, 
and by what means we can extricate ourselves from its dangers and diffi- 
culties. I do not deem it r ':essary, in taking this view, to go back and 
trace the operation of our ^ jvernment from the commencement, or to 
point out the departure from its true principles from the beginning, with 
the evils thence resulting, however interesting and instructive the inves- 
tigation might be. I might show that from the first, beginning with the 
formation of the Constitution, there were two parties in the Convention : 
one in favour of a national, or, what is the same thing, a consolidated 
government, and the other in favour of the confederative principle ; how 
the latter, from being in the minority at first, gradually, and after a long 
struggle, gained the ascendency ; and how the fortunate result of that as- 
cendency terminated in the establishment of that beautiful, complex, fed- 
erative system of government which I have attempted to explain. 

I might show that the struggle between the two parties did not termi- 
nate with the adoption of the Constitution ; that after it went into opera- 
tion the national party gained the ascendency in the counsels of the na- 
tion ; and that the result of that ascendency was to give an impulse to the 
government in the direction which their principles led, and from which 
it never afterward recovered. I am far from attributing this to any sin- 
ister design. The party were not less distinguished for patriotism than 
for ability, and no doubt honestly intended to give the system a fair trial ; 
but they would have been more than men, if their attachment to a favour- 
ite plan had not biased their feelings and judgment. I (said Mr. C.) 
avail myself of the occasion to avow my high respect for both of the 
great parties which divided the country in its early history. They were 
both eminently honest and patriotic, and the preference which each gave 
to its respective views resulted from a zealous attachment to the public 
interest. At that early period, before there was any experience as to the 
operation of the system, it is not surprising that one should believe that 
the danger was a tendency to anarchy, while the other believed it to be 
towards despotism, and that these different theoretical views should hon- 
estly have a decided influence on their public conduct. 

I pass over the intermediate events : the reaction against the national, 
or, as it was then called, federal party — the elevation of Mr. Jefferson in 
consequence of that reaction in 1801 — and the gradual departure (from 
the influence of power) of the Republican party from the principles which 
brought them into office. I come down at once to the year eighteen hun- 
dred and twenty-four, when a protective tariff was for the first time adopt- 
ed ; when the power to impose duties, granted for the purpose of raising 
revenue, was converted into an instrument of regulating, controlling, and 
organizing the entire capital and industry of the country, and placing them 
under the influence of this government ; and when the principles of con- 
solidation gained an entire ascendency in both houses of Congress. Its 
first fruit was to give a sectional action to the government, and, of course, 
a sectional character to political parties — arraying the non-exporting states 
against the exporting, and the Northern against the Southern section. 

It is my wish to speak of the events to which I feel myself compelled 
to refer, in illustration of the practical operation of that consolidating 
tendency of the government, which was consummated by the act pro- 
posed to be repealed, and which I believe to be the cause of all our evils, 


with the greatest possible moderation. I know how delicate a task it is 
to speak of recent political events, and of the actors concerned in them ; 
and I would, on this occasion, gladly avoid so painful a duty, if I did not 
believe that truth and public interest ret[uire it. Without a full under- 
standing of the events of this period, from '24 down to the present time, 
it is impossible that we can have a just knowledge of the cause of our 
present condition, or a clear perception of the means of remedying it. 
To avoid all personal feeling, I shall endeavour to recede, in imagination, 
a century from the present time, and from that distant position regard the 
events to which I allude, in that spirit of philosophical inquiry by which an 
earnest seeker after truth, at so remote a day, may be supposed to be ac- 
tuated. I feel I may be justified in speaking with the less reserve of these 
events, as the great question which, during the greater part of the period, 
so deeply agitated the country (the protective tariff), may now be consid- 
ered as terminated in the adjustment of the last winter, never to be re- 
agitated, as I trust ; and, of course, may be spoken of with the freedom of 
a past event. 

But to proceed with the narrative : the presidential contest, which was 
terminated the next year, placed the executive department under the con- 
trol of the same interest that controlled the legislative, so that all depart- 
ments of this government were united in favour of that great interest. 
The successful termination of the election in favour of the individual then 
elevated to the chief magistracy, and for whom 1 then and now entertain 
kind feelings, may be attributed in part, no doubt, to the predominance 
of the tariff interest, and may be considered as the first instance of the 
nredominance of that interest in a presidential contest. 

Let us pause at this point (it is an important one), in order to survey 
the state of public affairs at that juncture. In casting our eyes over the 
scene, we find the country divided into two great hostile and sectional 
parties — placed in conflict on a question, believed to be on both sides of 
vital importance, in reference to their respective interests ; and, on the 
side of the weaker party, believed, in addition, to involve a constitutional 
question of the greatest magnitude, and having a direct and important 
bearing on the duration of the liberty and Constitution of the country. In 
this conflict, we find both houses of Congress, with the chief magistrate, 
and, of course, the government itself, on the side of the dominant interest, 
and identified with it in principles and feelings. In this state of things, a 
great and solemn question. What ought to be done 1 was forced on the 
decision of the minority. Shall we acquiesce, or shall we oppose 1 and if 
oppose, howl To acquiesce quietly would be to subject the property 
and industry of an entire section of the country to an unlimited and indef- 
inite exaction ; as it was openly avowed that the protective system could 
only be perfected by being carried to the point of prohibition on all ar- 
ticles of which a sufficient supply could be made or manufactured in the 
country. To submit under such circumstances would have been, accord- 
ing to our view of the subject, a gross dereliction both of interest and 
duty. It was impossible. But how could the majority be successfully 
opposed, possessed, as they were, of every department of the government ? 
How, in this state of things, could the minority effect a change in their 
favour through the ordinary operations of the government ? They could 
effect no favourable change in this or the other house — the majority in 
both but too faithfully represented what their constituents believed to be 
the interest of their section, to whom only, and not to us, they were re- 
sponsible. The only branch of the government, then, on which the mi- 
nority could act, and through which they could hope to effect a favourable 
change, was the executive. The President is elected by a majority of 

election, in proportion to their number and the unity of their voice. Here 
was all our hope, and to this point all our efforts to effect a change were 
necessarily directed 5 but even here our power of acting with effect was 
limited to a narrow circle. It would have been hopeless to present a can- 
didate openly and fully identified with our own interest. Defeat would have 
been the certain result, had his acknowledged qualifications for intelli- 
' gence, experience, and patriotism been ever so great. We were thus 
I forced by inevitable consequence — neither to be avoided nor resisted — to 
abandon the contest, or to select a candidate who, at best, was but a 
choice of evils ; one whose opinions were intermediate or doubtful on 
the subject which divided the two sections. However great the hazard, 
or the objections to such a selection for such an office, it must be char- 
ged, not to us, but to that action of the system which compelled us to 
make the choice— compelling us by that consolidating tendency which, 
had drawn under the control of this government the local and reserved 
powers belonging to the states separately ; the exercise of which had ne- 
cessarily given that direction to its action, that created and placed in con- 
flict the two great sectional, political parties. 

But it was not sufficient that the opinion of our candidate should not 
be fully in coincidence with our own. That alone could not be sufficient 
to ensure his success. It was necessary that he should have great per- 
sonal popularity, distinct from political 5 to be, in a word, a successful 
military chieftain, which gives a popularity the most extensive, and the 
least affected by political considerations ; and this was another fruit — a 
necessary fruit of consolidation. To these recommendations others must 
be added, in order to conciliate the feelings of the minority — that he should 
be identified, for instance, with them in interest, possess the same prop- 
erty, and pursue the same industry. These qualifications, all of which 
were made indispensable by the juncture, pointed clearly to one man, and 
but one, General Jackson. There was, however, another circumstance 
which gave him great prominence and strength, and which greatly con- 
tributed to recommend him as the opposing candidate. He had been de- 
feated in the presidential contest before the House of Representatives 
(though returned with the highest vote) under circumstances which were 
supposed to involve a disregard of the public voice. I do not deem it 
necessary to enter into an inquiry as to the principles which controlled 
the election, or as to the view of the actors in that scene. Many con- 
siderations doubtless governed, and, among others, the feelings of prom- 
inent individuals in reference to the candidates, and their opinion of their 
respective qualifications, besides the one to which I have alluded — that of 
giving to the dominant interest that control over the executive which 
they had over the legislative department. 

These combined motives, as I have stated, pointed distinctly to Gen- 
eral Jackson. He was selected as the candidate of the minority, and the 
canvass entered into with all that zeal which belonged to the mao-nitude 
of the stake, united with the consciousness of honest and patriotic pur- 
pose. The leading objects were to effect a great political reform, and to 
arrest, if possible, what we believed to be a dangerous, and felt to be an 
oppressive action of the government. It is true that the qualifications of 
the individual, thus necessarily selected, were believed to be, in many im- 
portant particulars, defective ; that he lacked experience, extensive polit- 
ical information, and a command of temper ; but it was believed that his 
firmness of purpose, and his natural sagacity, by calling to his aid the ex- 
perience, the talents, and patriotism of those who supported his claims, 
would compensate for these defects. 

I do not deem it necessary to enter into a history of this interesting 
and animated canvass ; but there is one circumstance attending it so 
strikino- so full of instruction, and so illustrative of the point under con- 
siderat'ion that I cannot pass it in silence. The canvass soon ran into 
the great and absorbing question of the day, as all ordinary diseases run 
into the prevailing one. Those in power sought to avail themselves of 
the popularity of the system with which they were identified. I speak 
it not in censure. It was natural, perhaps unavoidable, as connected with 
the morbid action of the government. That portion of our allies iden- 
tified with the same interest were in like manner, and from the same 
motive and cause, forced into a rivalry of zeal for the same interest. The 
result of these causes, combined with a monopolizing spirit of the protect- 
ive system, was the tariff of eighteen hundred and twenty-eight : that 
disastrous measure, which has brought so many calamities upon us, and 
put in peril the Union and liberty of the country. It poured millions into 
the treasury, beyond even the most extravagant wants of the government ; 
and which, on the payment of the public debt, caused that hazardous junc- 
ture, resuhing from a large undisposable surplus revenue, which has 
spread such deep corruption in every direction. 

This disastrous event opened our eyes (I mean myself, and those imme- 
diately connected with me) as to the full extent of the danger and op- 
pression of the protective system, and the hazard of failing to effect the 
reform intended through the election of General Jackson. With these 
disclosures, it became necessary to seek some other ultimate, but more 
certain measure of protection. We turned to the Constitution to find this 
remedy. We directed a more diligent and careful scrutiny into its pro- 
visions, in order to ascertain fully'the nature and character of our polit- 
ical system. We found a certain and effectual remedy in that great fun- 
damental division of the powers of the system between this government 
and its independent co-departments : the separate government of the 
states to be called into action to arrest the unconstitutional acts of this 
government, by the interposition of the state — the paramount source 
from which both governments derive their power. But in relying on this 
as our ultimate remedy, we did not abate our zeal in the presidential 
canvass J we still hoped that General Jackson, if elected, would effect the 
necessary reform, and thereby supersede the necessity for calling into 
action the sovereign authority of the state, which we were anxious to 
avoid. With these views, the two were pushed with equal zeal at the 
same time ; which double operation commenced in the fall of eighteen 
hundred and twenty-eight, but a few months after the passage of the Tar- 
iff Act of that year 5 and at the meeting of the Legislature of the State, 
at the same period, a paper, known as the South Carolina Exposition, was 
reported to that body, containing a full development, as well on the con- 
stitutional point, as the operation of the protective system, preparatory 
to a state of things which might eventually render the action of the state 
necessary in order to protecther rights and interests, and to stay a course 
of policy which we believed would, if not arrested, prove destructive of 
liberty and the Constitution. This movement on the part of the state 
places beyond all controversy the true character of the motives which 
<Toverned us in the presidential canvass. We were not the mere partisans 
of the candidate we supported. We aimed at a far more exalted object 
than his election— the defence of the rights of the state, and the security 
of liberty and of the Constitution. To this we held his election entirely 
subordinate. This we pursued, unwarped by selfish or ambitions views. 
The contest terminated in the elevation of him who now presides 5 but 
it soon became apparent that our apprehensions that we might be dis- 

appointed in the expected reform, was not without foundation. That oc- 
curred, which we ought, perhaps, to have expected, and which, under 
siniilar circumstances, has rarely failed to follow. He who was elevated 
to power proved to be more solicitous to retain what he had acquired 
than to fulfil the expectation of those who had honestly contributed to his 
elevation, with a view to political reform. The tale may be readily told: 
not a promise fulfilled — not a measure adopted to correct the abuses of 
the system — not a step taken to arrest the progress of consolidation, and 
to restore the confederative principles of our government — not a look cast 
to the near approach of the payment of the public debt — nor an effort 
made to reduce gradually the duties, in order to prevent a surplus revenue, 
and to save the manufactures which had grown up under the protective 
system, from the hazard of a shock caused by a sudden reduction of the 
duties. All were forgotten ; and, instead of attempting to control events, 
the executive was only solicitous to occupy a position the most propitious 
to retain and increase his power. It required but little penetration to see 
that the position sought was a middle one between the contending parties: 
to be identified v/ith no principle or policy, and rely on the personal pop- 
ularity of the incumbent, and the power and patronage of the government, 
as the means of support. Hence a third party was formed, a personal 
and government party, made up of those who were attached to the person 
and the fortunes of a successful political chief. In a word, we had ex- 
hibited to our view, for the first time under our system, that most danarer- 
ous spectacle, m a country like ours, a prerogative party, who take their 
creed wholly from the mandate of their chief. The times were eminently 
propitious for the formation of such a party. Millions were poured into 
the treasury by the high protective duties of eighteen hundred and 
twenty-eight, furnishing an overflowing fund to secure the services of ex- 
pectants and partisans. Against these superabundant means of power 
there was not, nor could there be, as things were situated, any effective 
resistance, all being necessarily withdrawn in consequence of the fierce 
contest between the two sections which continued to rage with increasing 
violence, and which wasted the strength of the parties on each other, in- 
stead of opposing the rapidly-increasing power of the executive. This, 
and not the personal or the military popularity of General Jackson, is the 
true explanation of the fact, which has struck so many with wonder, that 
no misconduct, that no neglect of duty nor perversions of the power of 
government, however gross, has been able to shake his power and pop- 
ularity ; and that the people have looked idly on, apparently bereaved of 
every patriotic sentiment, or joined to swell the tide of power with shouts 
of approbation at every act, however outrageous. I do not doubt that his 
personal popularity, arising from his military achievements, contributed 
much to his elevation (in fact, it was one of the elements, as stated, which 
governed his selection as a candidate), and to sustain him while in power; 
but I feel a perfect conviction that, whatever advantage he has gained 
from this source, has been more than counterbalanced by the mismanage- 
ment and blunders of his administration, and that it would be equally dif- 
ficult to expel from power any individual of sagacity and firmness, in 
possession of that department, under the circumstances which he has held 
it. Let us learn, from the instructive history of this interesting period, 
that despotic power, under our system, commences with usurpation of 
this government on the reserved powers of the states, and terminates in 
the concentration of all the powers of this government in the person of a 
chief magistrate ; and that, unless the first be resisted, the latter follows 
by a necessary, resistless, and inevitable law, as much so as that which 
governs the movements of the solar system. 

As soon as it was perceived that he whom Ave had elevated to office 
was, as I have stated, more intent to retain and augment his power than 
to meet the just expectations on which he was supported, we totally de- 
spaired of relief and reform through the ordinary action of this govern- 
ment, and separated, from that moment, from the administration ; with- 
drew from the political contest here, and concentrated all our energies on 
that ultimate remedy which we had taken the precaution to prepare, in I 
order to be called into action in the event of things taking the direction [ 
which they have. j 

An active discussion followed in the state, in which the principles and ; 
character of our political institutions were fully investigated, and a clear i 
perception of the danger to which the country was exposed was impress- 
ed upon the public mind. Still the determination was fixed not to act 
while there was a ray of hope of redress from the government ; and we 
accordingly waited the approach of the final payment of the public debt, 
when all pretexts for keeping up the extravagant duties of eighteen hun 
dred and twenty-eight would cease. The near approach of that event 
caused the passage of the act of eighteen hundred and thirty-two, which 
was proclaimed on both sides, by the opposition and the administration, 
to be a final and permanent adjustment of the protective system. We 
felt every disposition to acquiesce in any reasonable adjustment, but 
it was impossible, consistently with our views of the nature of our rights, 
and the consequences involved in the contest, to submit to the act. The 
protective principle was fully maintained; the reduction was small, and 
the distribution of the burden between the two sections more unequal than 
under the act of eighteen hundred and twenty-eight. Every effort was 
made to magnify the amount of reduction. With that view false and de- 
ceptions calculations were made, and that, too, in official documents, in 
order to make the impression that the revenue would be reduced to the 
legitimate wants of the government, or, at least, nearly so. We were not 
to°be imposed upon by such calculations. We clearly perceived that the 
income would be at least from twenty-two to twenty-five millions of dol- 
lars, nearly double what the government ought to expend ; and we as 
clearly saw how much so large a permanent surplus must contribute to 
corrupt the country and undermine our political institutions. Seeing 
this, with a prospect of an indefinite continuance of the heavy and useless 
tax levied in the shape of duties, the state interposed, and by that inter- 
position prepared to arrest within its limits the operation of the protective 
system — interposed, not to dissolve the Union, as was calumniously 
charged, but to compel an adjustment here or through a convention of the 
state's, or, if an adjustment could not be had through either, to compel 
the government to abandon the protective system. 

, The moment was portentous. Our political system rocked to the 
centre. Whatever diseases existed within, engendered by long corrup- 
tion and abuse, were struck to the surface. The proclamation and the 
message of the President appeared, containing doctrines never before 
officiafly avowed — going far beyond the extreme tenets of the Federal 
party, and in direct conflict with all that had ever been entertained by the 
Kepublican party ; and yet, such was the corruption, such the subserviency 
to power, that both parties, forgetting the past, abandoning every political 
principle, however sacred or long entertained, rushed to the embrace of 
the new creed— suddenly, instantly, without the slightest hesitation. 
Never did a free people exhibit so degraded a spectacle ; give such evi- 
dence of the loose attachment to principle, or greater subserviency to 
power. At this moment the current of events tended towards despotic 
authority in the person of the chief magistrate on one side, and to dis- 


umuiL UH me oiiier. uu uiie siue lu uiuiiie uie rresiuem wmi puwer more 
than dictatorial, in order to maintain the ascendency of the protective 
system ; and, on the other, to resist the loss of liberty at every hazard. 
Fortunately for the country, there was at the time in the councils of the 
nation an individual who had the highest weight of authority with the 
supporters of that system — one who had done more to advance it than 
any other — who was the most intimately identified with it, and to whom, 
of course, the task of adjustment most appropriately belonged. For- 
tunately, also, he had the disposition and the fortitude to undertake it. 
An adjustment followed; the crisis of our disease was passed ; the body 
politic from that moment became convalescent ; the tendency to despotic 
power in the executive was weakened — doubly weakened — by enabling 
those who had been so long wasting their strength in mutual conflict, to 
unite in resisting the usurpation of that department, as we this day behold 
on the question of the deposites ; and by diminishing the revenue — the 
food on which it had grown to such enormous dimensions. In a short 
time the decreasing scale of duties will cause the effect of this diminution 
to be felt : a period that will be hastened by that profuse and profligate 
disbursement which has nearly doubled the public expenditure, and which 
is so rapidly absorbing the surplus revenue. 

I have said that the crisis is passed ; yet there remains some trouble- 
some and even dangerous symptoms, growing out of the former cause of 
the disease, which, however, may be overcome by skill and decision ; un- 
less, indeed, they should run into the lurking cause of another, and most 
dangerous disease, with which it is intimately connected, and excite it 
into action ; I mean the rotten state of the currency. There are indica- 
tions of a very dangerous and alarming character of this tendency, at the 
point where the currency is the most disordered. I refer to the measure 
now pending before the Legislature of New- York, to pledge the capital 
and the industry of the state, to the amount of six millions of dollars, in 
support of the banks — a measure of a kind that a British minister (Lord 
Althorp), with all the power of Parliament to support him, refused to adopt, 
because of its dangerous and corrupting tendency. 

Let us now turn, and inquire, What would have been the course of 
events if the state had not interposed, and things had been permitted to 
take their natural course 1 The act of eighteen hundred and thirty-two 
was proclaimed, as I have stated, on both sides, to be a final settlement 
of the tariff question, and, of course, was intended to be a permanent law 
of the land. The revenue, as I have already stated, under that act, 
and the sales of public lands, would, in all probability, be not less than 
twenty-five millions of dollars per annum : a sum exceeding the legiti- 
mate wants of the government, estimated on a liberal scale, by ten or 
eleven millions of dollars. Now, I ask, What would have been our situa- 
tion, with so large an annual surplus, and a fierce sectional conflict raging 
between the Northern and Southern portions of the Union ] If we find it 
so difficult to resist the usurpation of the executive department with a 
temporary surplus revenue, to continue at most but for one or two years, 
how much more diflicult would it have been to resist with a permanent 
surplus such as I have stated ^ If we find it so difficult to resist that de- 
partment when those who have been separated by the tariff are united, 
how utterly hopeless would have been the prospect of resistance were 
that question now open, and those who are now united against executive 
encroachments were exhausting their strength against each other \ Is 
it not obvious that the executive power, under such circumstances, would 
have been irresistible, and that we should have been impelled rapidly to 
despotism or disunion ] One or the other would certainly have been our 

fate if events had been permitted to move in the channel in which they 
were then flowing, and despotism much more probably than disunion. 
It is almost without example that free states should be disunited in con- 
sequence of the violence of internal conflicts ; but very numerous are the 
cases in which such conflicts have terminated in the establishment of de- 
spotic power. The danger of disunion is small ; that of despotism great. 
We have, however, I trust, escaped, for the present, the danger of both, 
for which we are indebted to that great conservative principle of our sys- 
tem which considers this government and that of the states as co-depart- 
ments ; and which proved successful, although rejected by every state but 
one, and although called into action on the most trying occasion that can 
be imagined, and under the most adverse circumstances. 

I said that the danger has passed for the present. The seeds of the 
disease still remain in the system. The act which I propose to repeal 
accompanied the adjustment of the tariff'. It was passed solely on the 
ground of recognising the principles in which it originated, and to estab- 
lish them, as far as an act of Congress could do so, as the permanent law 
of the land. While these seeds remain, it will be in vain to expect a 
healthy state of the body politic: alienation, the loss of confidence, sus- 
picion, jealousy, on the part of the weaker section at least, who have ex- 
perienced the bitter fruits that spring from those principles, must accom- 
pany the movements of this government. But these seeds will not remain 
in the system without germinating. Unless removed, the genius of con- 
solidation will again exhibit itself ; but in what form, whether in revival 
of the question from whose dangers we have not yet wholly escaped ; 
whether between North and South, East and West ; whether between the 
slaveholding and the non-slaveholding states ; the rich and poor, or the 
capitalists and the operatives, it is not for me to say ; but that it will 
again revive (unless, by your votes, you expunge the act from your statute- 
book), to divide, distract, and- corrupt the community, is certain. Nor is 
it much less so that, when it again revives, it will pass through all those 
stages which we have witnessed, and, in all human probability, consum- 
mate itself, and terminate, finally, in a military despotism. Reverse the 
scene— let the act be obliterated forever from among our laws ; let the 
principle of consolidation be forever suppressed, and that admirable and 
beautiful federative system, which I have so imperfectly portrayed, be 
firmly established, and renovated health and vigour will be restored to the 
body politic, and our country may yet realize that permanent state of 
liberty, prosperity, and greatness, which we all once so fondly hoped was 
our allotted destiny. 



The Select Committee appointed to inquire into the extent of the executive patron' 
age ; the circumstances which have contributed to its great increase of late ; the 
expediency and practicaUUty of reducing the same, and the means of such re- 
duction, have bestowed on the subjects into lohich ihey were directed to inquire 
that deliberate attention which their importance deinands, and submit, as the re- 
sult of their investigation, the following report, in part : 

To ascertain the extent of executive patronage, the first subject to which the 
resolution directs the attention of the committee, it becomes necessary to as- 


certain previously the amount of the revenue and the expenditure, and the number 
of officers, agents, and persons in the employment of the government, or who 
receive money from the pubUc treasury, all of which, taken collectively, consti- 
tute the elements of which patronage is mainly composed. 

As the returns of the revenue and expenditure for the year 1834 are not yet 
completed, your committee have selected the year 1833 as being the last of 
which complete and certain returns can be obtained. 

The result of their investigation on all these points will be found in a table an- 
nexed to the report, which contains a statemeht of the gross amount of the rev- 
enue under the various heads of customs, lands, postoffice, and miscellaneous, 
for the year 1833 ; the expenditures for the same period, arranged under the va- 
rious heads of appropriations, the number of officers, agents, contractors, and 
persons in the employment of the government, or who receive money from the 
public treasury. From this table it appears that the aggregate amount of the 
revenue for the year was $35,298,426, and of the disbursements $22,713,755; 
that the number of officers, agents, and persons in the employment of the gov- 
ernment is 60,294 : of which there belong to the civil list, including persons 
in civil employ, attached to the army and navy, 12,144 ; to the military and In- 
dian department, 9643 ; to the navy, including marine corps, 6499 ; to the post- 
office, 31,917 ; all of whom hold their places directly or indirectly from the ex- 
ecutive, and, with the exception of the judicial officers, are liable to be dismiss- 
ed at his pleasure. If to the above there be added 39,549 pensioners, we shall 
have a grand total of 100,079 persons who are in the employ of the govern- 
ment, or dependant directly on the public treasury. 

But, as great as is this number, it gives a very imperfect conception of the 
sum-total of those who, as furnishing supplies or otherwise, are connected with, 
and more or less dependant on, the government, and, of course, liable to be in- 
fluenced by its patronage, the number of whom, with their dependants, cannot 
even be conjectured. If to these be added the almost countless host of expect- 
ants who are seeking to displace those in office, or to occupy their places as 
they become vacant, all of whom must look to the executive for the gratification 
of their wishes, some conception may be formed of the immense number sub- 
ject to the influence of executive patronage. 

But to ascertain the full extent of this influence, and the prodigious control 
which it exerts over public opinion and the movements of the government, we 
must, in addition to the amount of the revenue and expenditure, and the num- 
ber of persons dependant upon the government, or in its employ, take into 
the estimate a variety of circumstances which contribute to add to the force and 
extent of patronage. These, in the regular course of the investigation, would 
next claim the attention of your committee ; but as all, or, at least, a far greater 
part of them, are of recent origin, they will properly fall under the next head to 
which the resolution directs the attention of your committee, and which they 
will now proceed to investigate. 

Among the circumstances which have contributed to the great increase of 
executive patronage of late, the most prominent, doubtless, are the great increase 
of the expenditure of the government, which, within the last eight years (from 
1825 to 1833), has risen from $11,490,460 to $22,713,755, not including pay- 
ments on account of the public debt : a corresponding increase of officers, agents, 
contractors, and others, dependant on the government ; the vast quantity ol land 
to which the Indian title has, in the same period, been extinguished, and which 
has been suddenly thrown into the market, accompanied wiih the patronage in- 
cident to holding Indian treaties, and removing the Indians to the west of the 
INIississippi, and also a great increase of the number and influence of survey- 
ors, receivers, registers, and others employed in the branch of the administra- 
tion connected with the public lands ; all of which have greatly increased the 
influence of executive patronage over an extensive region, and that the most 


growing and flourishing portion of the Union. In this connexion, the recent 
practice of the government must be taken into estimate, of reserving to individ- 
ual Indians a large portion of the best land of the country, to which the title of 
the nation is extinguished, to be disposed of under the sanction of the execu- 
tive, on the recommendation of agents appointed solely by him, and which has 
prevailed to so great an extent of late, especially in the Southwestern section 
of the Union. 

It is difficult to imagine a device better calculated to augment the patronage 
of the executive, and, with it, to give rise to speculations calculated to deprave 
and corrupt the community, without benefit to the Indians. But as greatly as 
these causes have added to the force of patronage of late, there are others of a 
diflerent nature, which have contributed to give it a far greater and more dan- 
gerous influence. At the head of these should be placed the practice so great- 
ly extended, if not for the first time introduced, of removing from office persons 
Avell qualified, and who had faithfully performed their duty, in order to lill their 
places with those who are recommended on the groimd that they belong to the 
party in power. 

Your committee feel that they are touching ground which may be considered 
of a party character, and which, were it possible consistently with the discharge 
of their duty, they would wholly avoid, as their object is to inquire into facts 
only, as contributing to increase the patronage of the executive, without looking 
to intention, or desiring to cast censure on those in power ; but while they 
would cautiously avoid any remark of a party character, as inconsistent with the 
gravity of the subject, and incompatible with the intention of the Senate in di- 
recting the inquiry, they trust that they are incapable of shrinking from the per- 
formance of the important and solemn duty confided to them, of thoroughly in- 
vestigating to the bottom a subject involving, as they believe, the fate of our po- 
litical institutions and the liberty of the country, by declining to investigate, fully 
and freely, as regards its character and consequence, every measure or practice 
of the government connected with the inquiry, w^hether ft has or has not been 
a subject of party controversy. 

In speaking of the practice of removing from office on party ground as of re- 
cent date, and, of course, comprehended under the causes which have, of late, 
contributed to the increase of executive patronage, your committee are aware 
that cases of such removals may be found in the early stages of the govern- 
ment ; but they are so few, and exercised so little influence, that they may be 
said to constitute instances rather than as forming a practice. It is only within 
the last few years that removals from office have been introduced as a system ; 
and for the first time, an opportunity has been alTorded of testing the tendency 
of the practice, and witnessing the mighty increase which it has given to the 
force of executive patronage ; and the entire and fearful change, in conjunction 
with other causes, it is effecting in the character of our political system. Nor 
will it require much reflection to perceive in what manner it contributes to in- 
crease so vastly the extent of executive patronage. 

So long as offices were considered as public trusts, to be conferred on the 
honest, the faithful, and capable, for the common good, and not for the benefit 
or gain of the incumbent or his party, and so long as it was the practice of the 
government to continue in office those who faithfully performed their duties, its 
patronage, in point of fact, was limited to the mere power of nominating to ac- 
cidental vacancies or to newly-created offices, and could, of course, exercise but a 
moderate influence, either over the body of the community, or of the office-hold- 
ers themselves ; but when this practice was reversed — when offices, instead of 
being considered as public trusts, to be conferred on the deserving, w ere regard- 
ed as the spoils of victory, to be bestowed as rewards for partisan services, 
without respect to merit ; when it came to be understood that all who hold of- 
fice hold by the tenure of partisan zeal and party service, it is easy to see that 

the certain, direct, and inevitable tendency of such a state of things is to convert 
the entire body of those in office into corrupt and supple instruments of power, 
and to raise up a host of hungry, greedy, and subservient partisans, ready for 
every service, however base and corrupt. Were a premium olTered for the'best 
means of extending to the utmost the power of patronage ; to destroy the lore 
of country, and to substitute a spirit of subserviency and man-worship ; to en- 
courage vice and discourage virtue ; and, in a word, to prepare for the subver- 
sion of liberty and the establishment of despotism, no scheme more perfect could 
be devised ; and such must be the tendency of the practice, with whatever in- 
tention adopted, or to whatever extent pursued. 

As connected with this portion of the inquiry, your committee cannot avoid 
adverting to the practice, similar in its character and tendency, growing out of 
the act of the 15th of May, 1820, which provides, among other things, that, 
from and after its passage, all district attorneys, collectors, and other disbur- 
sing officers therein mentioned, to be appointed under the Jaws of the United 
States, shall be appointed for the term of four years. The object of Congress 
in passing this act was, doubtless, to enforce a more faithful performance of 
duty on the part of the disbursing officers, by withholding reappointments 
from those who had not faithfully discharged their duty, without intending 
to reject those who had. At first the practice conformed to the intention of 
the law, and thereby the good intended was accomplished, without material- 
ly increasing the patronage of the executive ; but a very great change has fol- 
lowed, which has, in the opinion of your committee, defeated the object of 
the act, and, at the same time, added greatly to the influence of patronage. 
Faithful performance of duty no longer ensures a renewal of appointment. The 
consequence is inevitable : a feeling of dependance on the executive, on the 
part of the incimibent, increasing as his term approaches its end, with a great 
increase of the number of those who desire his place, followed by an active com- 
petition between the occupant and those who seek his place, accompanied by 
all those acts of compliance and subserviency by which power is conciliated ; 
and, of course, with a corresponding increase of the number of those influenced 
by the executive Avill. 

In enumerating the causes which have, of late, increased executive patronao-e, 
your committee cannot, without a dereliction of duty, pass over one of very re- 
cent origin, although they are aware that it is almost impossible to allude to it, 
in the most delicate manner, without exciting feelings of a party character, which 
they are sincerely anxious to avoid : they refer to the increased power which 
late events have given to the executive over the public funds, and, with it, the 
currency of the country. 

In considering this part of the subject of their inquiry, it is the intention of 
the committee to confine themselves exclusively to the tendency of the events 
to which they refer as increasing executive patronage, avoiding all allusion to 
motives, or to the legality of the acts in question. 

Whatever diversity of opinion may exist as to the expediency or the legality 
of removing the deposites, there can, it is supposed, be none as to the fact that 
the removal has, as things now stand, increased the power and patronage of 
the executive in reference to the public funds. They are now, in point of fact, 
under his sole and unlimited control ; and may, at his pleasure, be withdrawn 
from the banks where he has ordered them to be deposited, be placed in other 
banks, or in the custody of whomsoever he may choose to select, without limit- 
ation or restriction ; and must continue subject to his sole will, till placed, by 
an act of Congress, under the custody of the laws. Whether any provision can 
be devised which would place them as much beyond the control of the execu- 
tive in their present as they were in their former place of deposite, and which, 
at the same time, would not endanger their safety, are points on which your com- 
mittee do not deem it necessary to venture an opinion. What addition this un- 

limited control over the public funds, from the time of their collection till that 
of their expenditure, makes to the patronage of the executive, is difficult to es- 
timate. According to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, the amount 
of the public funds in deposite on the 1st of January, 1834, was $11,702,905; 
and their estimated amount, on the 31st of December last, was $8,695,981 ; 
making an average amount for the year of $10,199,443, the use of which, con- 
siderino- the permanency of the deposites, may be estimated as not of less value 
to the banks in which they were deposited than four per cent. ; making, at that 
rate, on the average amount in deposite, the sum of $407,977 per annum. This 
immense gain to these powerful and influential monopolies depends upon the 
will and pleasure of the executive, and must give him a corresponding control 
over them ; but this, of itself, affords a very imperfect view of the extent of his 
patronage, dependant on his control over the public deposites. To ascertain its 
full extent, the advantages which these banks have, in consequence of the de- 
posites, in circulating their notes and in dealing in exchanges, and the compe- 
tition which it must excite among the banks generally to supplant each other in 
these advantages, and, of course, in executive favour, on which they depend, 
and which must tend to create, on their part, a universal spirit of dependance 
and subserviency ; the means which the deposites necessarily afford to raise or 
depress at pleasure the value of the stock of this or that bank ; and the wide 
field which is consequently opened to the initiated partisans of power for the 
accumulation of fortunes by speculations in bank stock ; the facility which all 
these causes combined must give to political favourites in obtaining bank accom- 
modations ; and, finally, the control which the accompanying power of desig- 
nating the notes of what banks may, and what may not, be received in the pub- 
lic dues, gives to the executive over these institutions, must be taken into the 
estimate, to form a correct opinion of the full force of this tremendous engine of 
power and influence, wielded, as things now stand, by the will of a single in- 

Your committee have now enumerated the principal causes which have of 
late contributed to increase so greatly the patronage of the executive. There 
are others still remaining to be noticed, which have greatly contributed to this 
increase, and which claim the most serious consideration ; but, as they are of 
an incidental character, it is proposed to consider them in their proper connex- 
ion, in a subsequent part of this report. Having completed, under its proper 
head, the inquiry as to the extent of executive patronage, and the cause of its 
recent increase, your committee will next proceed to investigate the deeply-in- 
teresting questions of the expediency and practicability of its reduction. 

In considering the question of the expediency of its reduction, your commit- 
tee do not deem it necessary to enter into an elaborate argument to prove that 
patronage, at best, is but a necessary evil ; that its tendency, where it is not 
effectually checked and regulated, is to debase and corrupt the community ; 
and that it is, of course, a fundamental maxim in all states having free and pop- 
ular institutions, that no more should be tolerated than is necessary to maintain 
the proper efficacy of government. How little this principle, so essential to 
the preservation of liberty in popular governments, has been respected under 
ours, the view which has already been presented of the vast extent to which 
patronage has already attained under this government, and its rapid growth, but 
too clearly demonstrate. But as great and as rapid as has been its growth, it 
may be thought by some who have not duly reflected upon the subject, that it 
is not more than sufficient to maintain the government in its proper efficiency, 
■ and that it cannot be diminished without exposing our institutions to the danger 
I of weakness and anarchy. To demonstrate the utter fallacy of such a suppo- 
sition, it is only necessary to compare the present to the past, in reference to 
the point under consideration. 

No one capable of judging will venture to assert that the patronage of the 


executive branch of this government, in any stage of its existence, from the 
time it went fairly into operation, has ever proved deficient in proper influence 
and control ; yet, if the present be compared with any past period of our histo- 
ry, excluding, of course, that of the late war, the patronage now under the con- 
trol of the executive will be found greatly to exceed that of any former period. 
To illustrate the truth of this remark, your committee will select, for compari- 
son, the years 1825 and 1833 : the former, because it was thought, even then, 
by many of the most experienced and reflecting of our citizens, that executive 
patronage had attained a dangerous extent ; and the latter, because it is the 
latest period of which we have the requisite materials with which to make the 
comparison. What, then, is the comparative extent of executive patronage, 
respectively, with the short interval of but eight years between them 1 What, 
at these respective periods, was the amount of the revenue and expenditure 1 
What the number of persons in the employ of the government, or dependant on 
its bounty ? and what the extent to which, according to the practice of the re- 
spective periods, the patronage of the government was brought to exert over 
those subject to its control ? A short comparative statement will show. 

The income of the government, in all its branches, including the postofhce, 
was, in 1825, $28,147,383 ; and 1833, $36,667,274. The gross expenditures, 
including the pubUc debt, in 1825, was $24,814,847; in 1833, $27,229,389, 
Excluding the public debt, it was, in 1825, $12,719,503 ; in 1833, $25,685,846. 
The number of persons employed, and living on the bounty of the government, 
in 1825,55,777; in 1833, 100,079. 

Measuring the extent of the patronage, at these respective periods, by these 
elements combined, without taking into consideration the circumstances which, 
as already shown, have in this short period given such increased force to ex- 
ecutive patronage, the result of the whole, in 1825, compared to 1833, is as 65 
to 89, making an increase of upward of 36 per cent. If the comparative ra- 
pidity of this great increase be examined, it will be found that it has had a pro- 
gressive acceleration throughout the period. If we divide the period into equal 
parts of four years each, the increase in the first four years will be found much 
less than in the last four. The increase, for instance, of the revenue during 
the first four years, was 4,616,594 dollars ; and during the last four, 4,906,026 
dollars ; of the expenditures during the first four, 1,873,675 dollars ; and during 
the last four, 9,313,340 dollars. 

It may be said that this increase of patronage, great as it is, does not mate- 
rially exceed the growth and population of the country, with which it is as- 
sumed that it ought to keep pace. This view overlooks entirely the increase 
of patronage from those circumstances which have so much increased it during 
the period in question, as has already been shown. If these be taken into con- 
sideration ; if to the increase of revenue and expenditure, and the number de- 
pendant on government, we add the vast increase of executive patronage from the 
immense public domain recently thrown into market, the great extent of Indian 
reservations, the control which the practice of removal has established over those 
in office, and the great addition to executive power over the public funds, and, 
through this, over the banking institutions of the country, it cannot be doubted 
that, instead of increasing only 36 per cent., it has more than doubled in the 
period in question, while the growth and population of the country have prob- 
ably not exceeded 24 per cent. 

But your committee cannot agree that there is any substantial reason why 
executive patronage should increase in the same proportion with the growth and 
population of the country. With the exception of the postofBce establishment, 
there is no necessary connexion between the increasing growth and population 
of the country and the increasing patronage of the government. On the con- 
trary, many of the public establishments are, or ought to be, stationary ; others 
on the decrease ; others, though necessarily increasing, increase at a rate far 

less than our population ; and yet we find that, for the last eight years, there 
has been a progressive increase of patronage far greater than the growth and 
population of the country. 

But the assumption that executive patronage and influence should increase in 
the same ratio with the growth and population of the country, is not less dan- 
o-erous than it is erroneous. If this assumption be carried out in practice, it 
must finally prove fatal to our institutions and liberty. The same amount of 
patronage and influence, in proportion to the extent and population of a country, 
which, tn a small state, moderately populous, would be perfectly safe, might 
prove fatal in an extensive and populous community, just as a much smaller 
military force, in proportion, would hold under subjection the latter than the 
former. The principle is the same in both cases : the great advantage which 
an organized body, such as a government or an army, has over an unorganized 
jnass — an advantage increasing with the increased difficulty of concert and co- 
operation ; and this, again, increasing with the number and dispersion of those 
on whose concert andco-operation resistance depends ; and hence, from their 
combined action, both as applied to the civil and military, the great advan- 
tage which power has over liberty in large and populous countries— an advan- 
tage so great that it is utterly impossible in such countries to defend the latter 
against the former, unless aided by a highly artificial political organization such 
as ours, based on local and geographical interests. If to this difficulty, result- 
ing from numbers and extent only, there be added others of a most formidable 
character, the greater capacity, in proportion, on the part of the government, in 
large communities, to seize on and corrupt all the organs of public opinion, and 
thus to delude and impose on the people ; the greater tendency in such com- 
munities to the formation of parties on local and separate interests, resting on 
opposing and conflicting principles, with separate and rival leaders at the head 
of each,°and the great difficulty of combining such parties in any system of re- 
sistance against the common danger from the government, some conception may 
be formed of the vast superiority which that organized and central party, con- 
sisting of office-holders and office-seekers, with their dependants, forming one 
compact, disciplined corps, wielded by a single individual, without conflict of 
opinion within either as to policy or principle, and aiming at the single object 
of retaining and perpetuating power in their own ranks, must have, in such a 
country as ours, over the people a superiority so decisive, that it may be safe- 
ly asserted that, whenever the patronage and influence of the government are 
suflftciently strong to form such a party, liberty, without a speedy reform, must 
inevitably be lost. When we add that this great advantage of the government 
over the people, of power over liberty, must increase proportionately with the 
growth and population of our country, it must be apparent how fatal would be 
the assumption, if acted on, that patronage and influence should increase in the 
same proportion ; and how infinitely dangerous has been the tendency of our 
aff"airs of late, when, as has been shown, instead of increasing simply in the 
same proportion, they have advanced with a rapidity more than double. So far 
is the assumption from being true, if we regard the duration of our institutions 
and the preservation of our liberty, we must hold it as a fundamental maxim, 
that the action of the government should, with our growth, gradually be- 
come more moderate instead of more intense : a maxim resting on principles 
deep and irreversible, and which cannot be violated without inevitable destruc- 
tion. Moderation in the action of this government, the great central power of 
our system, is, in fact, the condition on which our political existence depends ; 
and, in acting in conformity, it but conforms to the principle which Divine wis- 
; dom has impressed upon the beautiful and sublime system of which our globe 
is a part, and in which the great mass that gives life, and harmony, and action 
to the whole, reposes almost motionless in the centre. 

Your committee are aware that, since 1833, there has been a very consid- 

- .^— .~.»^ »>.—«-« »»»«»»«H«U.IW»tHJIlWWtlH 

erable decrease of revenue, under the act of March 2d, ItiSS, known as the 
Compromise Law, with other preceding acts, in consequence of the payment 
of the public debt, which would very considerably affect the comparison, if 
the year 1834, instead of 1833, had been selected ; and they have to express 
their regret that the want of full and accurate materials for the former year 
prevents them from furnishing a statement which, while it would show the de- 
crease, would also show how little the final discharge of the public debt has 
contributed to diminish either the public expenditure or the patronage of the 
executive : facts of no small moment, as connected with the subject of inquiry. 
The deep interest which the enlightened and patriotic took in that great event 
was not to indulge in the idle boast that the country was free from debt, but 
that it would, as they believed, be necessarily followed by the substantial bless- 
ing of reducing the public burdens, and, with it, the patronage of the govern- 
ment ; and thus, while it relieved industry, it would, at the same time, strength- 
en liberty against power. Thus far, these anticipations have been but very im- 
perfectly, if at all, realized. As great as has been the reduction of the revenue, it 
is still as great as it was when the debt exceeded more than $100,000,000; 
and, what is more to the point, what conclusively shows how much easier it is 
to discharge a public debt than to obtain the corresponding benefits, a proportion- 
ate diminution of the public expenditure, is the fact, that now, when we are free 
from all debt, the pubhc expenditure is as great as it was when the debt was 
most burdensome to the country. The only difference is, that then the money 
went to the public creditors, but now goes into the pockets of those who live 
on the government, with great addition to the patronage and influence of the ex- 
ecutive, but without diminution of burden to the people. 

Your committee will next proceed to inquire what has been the effects of 
this great, growing, and excessive patronage on our political condition and 
prospects : a question of the utmost importance in deciding on the expediency 
of its reduction. Has it tended to strengthen our political institutions, and to 
give a stronger assurance of perpetuating them, and, with them, the blessings 
of liberty to our posterity 1 Has it purified the public and political morals of 
our country, and strengthened the feeUng of patriotism ? Or, on the other hand, 
has it tended to sap the foundation of our institutions ; to throw a cloud of un- 
certainty over the future ; to degrade and corrupt the public morals ; and to 
substitute devotion and subserviency to power, in the place of that disinterested 
and noble attachment to principles and country, which are essential to the pres- 
ervation of free institutions 1 These are the questions to be decided ; and it 
is with profound regret that yoUr committee are constrained, however painful, to 
say that the decision admits of little doubt. They are compelled to admit the 
fact, that there never has been a period, from the foundation of the government, 
when there were such general apprehensions and doubts as to the permanency 
and success of our political institutions ; when the prospect of perpetuating 
them, and, with them, our liberty, appeared so uncertain ; when pubhc and po- 
litical morals were more depressed ; when attachment to country and principles 
were more feeble, and devotion to party and power stronger : for the truth of 
all which they appeal to the observation and reflections of the experienced and 
enlightened of all parties. If we turn our eyes to the government, we shall find 
that, with this increase of patronage, the entire character and structure of the 
government itself is undergoing a great and fearful change, which, if not arrest- 
ed, must, at no distant period, concentrate all its power in a single department. 

Your committee are aware that, in a country of such vast extent and diversity 
of interests as ours, a strong executive is necessary ; and, among other reasons, 
in order to sustain the government, by its influence, against the local feelings 
and interests which it must, in the execution of its duties, necessarily encoun- 
ter ; and it was doubtless with this view mainly that the framers of the Consti- 
tution vested the executive powers in a single individual, and clothed him with 


ihe almost entire patronage of the government. As long as the patronage of 
the executive is so moderate as to compel him to identify his administration 
with the public interest, and to hold his patronage subordinate to the principles 
and measures necessary to promote the common good, the executive power may 
be said to act within the sphere assigned to it by the Constitution, and may be 
considered as essential to the steady and equal operation of the government ; 
but when it becomes so strong as. to be capable of sustaining itself by its influ- 
ence alone, unconnected with any system of measures or policy, it is the cer- 
tain indication of the near approach of irresponsible and despotic power. When 
it attains that point, it will be difficult to find anywhere in our system a power 
sufficient to restrain its progress to despotism. The very causes which render 
a strong executive necessary, the great extent of country and diversity of inter- 
ests, will form great and almost insuperable impediments to any effectual re- 
sistance. Each section, as has been shown, will have its own party and its 
own favourites, entertaining views of principles and policy so different as to 
render a united effort against executive power almost impossible, while their 
separate and disjointed efforts must prove impotent against a power far stronger 
than either, taken separately ; nor can the aid of the states be successfully in- 
voked to arrest the progress to despotism. So far from weakening, they will 
add strength to executive patronage. A majority of the states, instead of oppo- 
sing, will be usually found acting in concert with the Federal Government, and, 
of course, will increase the influence of the executive : so that, to ascertain his 
patronage, the sum-total of the patronage of all the states, acting in conjunction 
with the federal executive, must be added to his. The two, as things now 
stand, constitute a joint force, difficult to be resisted. 

Against a danger so formidable, which threatens, if not arrested, and that 
speedily, to subvert the Constitution, there can be but one effectual remedy : a 
prompt and decided reduction of executive patronage ; the practicability and 
means of effecting which, your committee will next proceed to consider. 

The first, most simple, and usually the most certain mode of reducing patron, 
age, is to reduce the public income, the prolific source from which it almost ex- 
clusively flows. Experience has shown that it is next to impossible to reduce 
the public expenditure with an overflowing treasury ; and not much less difficult 
to reduce patronage without a reduction of expenditure ; or, in other words, that 
the most simple and eff'ectual mode of retrenching the superfluous expenditure 
of the government, of introducing a spirit of frugality and economy in the admin- 
istration of public afi'airs, of correcting the corruption and abuses of the government, 
and, finally, of arresting the progress of power, is to leave tht;"ioney in the pock- 
ets of those who made it, where all laws, human and divine, place it, and from 
which it cannot be removed by government itself, except for its necessary and 
indispensable wants, without violation of its highest trust and the most sacred 
principles of justice. Yet, as manifest as is this truth, such is our peculiar 
(it may be said extraordinary) situation, that this simple and obvious remedy to 
excessive patronage, the reduction of the revenue, can be applied only to a very 
limited extent. 

But before they proceed to the question of reducing the revenue, your com- 
mittee propose to show what will be its probable amount in future, as the laws 
now stand, to what limits the public expendituia may be reduced consistently 
with the just wants of government, and, finally, what, with such reduction, will 
be the probable annual surplus to the year 1842, when the highest duties will 
be reduced to 20 per cent, under the act of March 2, 1833 ; and when, as the 
act provides, the revenue is to be reduced to a sum necessary to an economical 
administration of the government. 

According to the statement from the Treasury Department, the receipts of the 
year 1834, from all sources, amounted to $22,584,365 ; of which, customs yield- 
ed $16,105,372; land, $5,020,940; the residue being made uo of bank divi- 

dends and incidental items ; and the question now for consideration is, What 
will be the probable annual receipts from all sources during the next seven 
years, if the income, as has just been stated, is to be reduced to the economical 
wants of the government ? a question which, from its nature, can only be an- 
swered by probable estimates and conjectures, and which, in this case, is the 
more difficult to be answered from a defect of data in reference to the customs, 
the principal source of revenue. The changes in the rates of duties have been 
so great latterly, and the period so recent since the laws, as they now stand, 
commenced operation, that it is impracticable to resort to those average results 
deduced from long periods, by which only the temporary changes and fluctu- 
ations of commerce can be detected, and its habitual current ascertained and 
subjected to calculation. The act of the 2d of March, 1833, which made the 
last change, and on the provisions of which the estimates of the income from 
the customs for the period in question must be based, commenced its operation 
on the first of January, 1834, and we, of course, have the result of but a single 
year. From a statement furnished by the treasury department, it seems that 
the domestic exports of that year amounted, in round numbers, to eighty mill- 
ions of dollars, and the imports, given in round numbers (as all the subsequent 
statements are), to $125,500,000; of which $23,000,000 were reshipped, 
leaving $102,500,000 for the consumption and use of the country, of which 
$55,000,000 were of articles free of duty, and $47,000,000 of those liable to du- 
ties; that the gross receipts amounted to $ 15,572,448, and the nett to $14,222,448, 
leaving $1,350,000 as the expense of collection ; that the reduction of one tenth 
of the duties above 20 per cent, ad valorem every two years, according to the 
pro\^sions of the act of 2d of March, 1833, amounted to $850,000. 

As scanty as are these data, it is believed that it may be safely anticipated 
that the average annual income of the period in question will be equal, at least, 
to the income of the last year. Instead of entering into all the details through 
which your committee have come to this conclusion, which would swell this re- 
port to an unwieldy size, they will content themselves with simply giving the 
results of the causes which, as far as can be foreseen, may either increase or 
diminish the receipts of the customs for the next seven years as compared 
with the past year, accompanied by a statement of their probable effects in the 

It will, however, be previously necessary to inquire whether the receipts 
from the customs during the last year in fact equalled the amount which the 
commercial transactions of the year, under ordinary circumstances, ought to 
have produced, ^i is not possible, in such an inquiry, to overlook the very un- 
usual importation of the precious metals during the year, which, accordino- to 
the statements from the treasury department, amounted to $16,572,582, consti- 
tuting, to that amount, a part of the articles imported in the year free of duty. 
The reshipment for the same period amounted to $1,676,208, leaving in the 
country, of the amount imported, $14,896,374 : a sum greatly exceeding our an- 
nual consumption, which, in addition to the supplies from our own rain's, prob- 
ably falls short of $2,000,000. The excess was doubtless caused by the pecu- 
liar condition of the country, in reference to its currency, during the year ; and 
would, under ordinary circumstances, have been imported in goods of various 
descriptions for the usual supply of the country instead of gold and silver. Sub- 
tracting, then, the two millions from this sum, and the balance from the amount 
of the articles free of duty, which, as stated, is $55,000,000, it would reduce 
the annual consumption of goods free of duty, including the precious metals, to 
$42,103,626 ; and assuming that the proportion between goods free of duty, 
and those liable to duty, to be as that sum is to $47,000,000 ; and, also, that 
the excess of the supply c,' gold and silver imported during the year would, un- 
der ordinary circumstances, have returned in that proportion between the dutied 
and the free articles, it would add to the former $7,133,313, and, of course, in- 


ori!<r<'^n-E<3 Kii 

crease the receipts from the customs in the same proportion ; that is, it wonM 
make an addition to them of $2,150,000, and would have raised the receipts 
from customs during the year from $14,220,000 to $16,370,000; which last, 
it is believed, may be assumed, at the present rate of the duties, as the proba- 
ble receipts, under ordinary circumstances, of an export and import trade equal 
to that of the last year. 

Let us now inquire into the causes which may tend to diminish or increase 
this estimated receipt during the next seven years, and their probable effects, 
in the aggregate, on the income from the customs. 

The only cause, as is believed, that will tend to diminish the amount, as far 
as can now be foreseen, is the gradual reduction of one tenth every two years, 
under the act of the 2d of March, 1833, till the year 1841, as has been stated. It 
■will be seen, by reference to the statement from the treasury already given, that 
this reduction last year, on an importation of $47,000,000 of dutiable articles, 
amounted to $850,000. If, however, instead of that amount, the importation 
of such articles had been $54,133,000, as it is assumed they would have been 
had not the derangement of the currency prevented, the reduction on account 
of the one tenth would have increased in the same proportion, and would have, 
of course, amounted to $975,000. 

Against this increased reduction there must be set off a probable gradual in- 
crease of the domestic exports of the country ; and with them, as a necessary 
consequence, a corresponding increase of the imports, and with them the re- 
ceipts from the customs. If we take the last six years, from 1828 to 1834, the 
last included, the average annual increase of domestic exports in the period is 
nearly $5,000,000, of which the increase in 1833 was $7,200,000, and in 1834, 
$9,600,000, making in the last two years an average increase of $8,800,000 : 
thus showing a much more rapid increase at the end than at the beginning of 
the series. If to this fact we add the effect which the decrease of duties under 
the act of the 2d of March, 1833, must have on the exports, the growing de- 
mand for the great staples of the country, and the vast amount of fertile and 
fresh lands brought into market within the last five years in the region most 
congenial to the growth of cotton, it is believed that it may be safely assumed 
that .the average annual increase of our domestic exports for the next seven 
years will, at least, equal $6,000,000. This increase must be followed by a 
corresponding increase of imports, and with them, as stated, of the receipts 
from the customs. Assuming that the proportion between the free and dutied 
articles, in consequence of this increase of imports, will be as has been estimated, 
it will add to the receipts from the customs an annual increase of $1,000,000, 
from which, however, must be deducted $59,000 on account of the biennial 
reduction of one tenth, which would reduce the increase to $941,000. If this 
be deducted from the average reduction of one tenth, as above ascertained, 
we shall have, taking the two causes together, the increase of the customs 
from increased imports, and the decrease from the biennial reduction of one 
tenth, a decrease of revenue equal to $34,000 annually : making, in seven years, 

But it must be taken into the estimate, that the increase of revenue from the 
increase of exports is annually added, while the reduction on account of the 
one tenth is biennially. Taking this into the estimate, the increase of revenue 
on account of the increase of the exports over the decrease, on account of the 
biennial reduction of one tenth, will in the seven years equal $3,298,500 ; from 
which take $238,000, and it will leave an aggregate increase over the decrease 
of $3,060,500. 

This conclusion, however, rests on the assumption that the proportion be- 
tween the free and dutied articles will remain during the period the same as is 
estimated for last year ; but it is probable that the reduction of the price of the 
free articles, in conseouence of the repeal of the duties, will greatly increase 

^^^»^«— H i mi nmiiiiii— III ■■■■■■w ni i mnm ii nn — M — 

iheir consumption, and, of course, have a corresponding effect in reducing the 
amount of the dutiable articles, and, with them, the receipts into the treasury. 
It is, however, believed to be a safe estimate, that the reduction of the receipts 
from this cause will be more than counterbalanced by the excess of the increase 
of income from the increase of exports over the reduction of one tenth biennial- 
ly, as has been shown ; and that it may, therefore, be assumed with reasonable 
confidence, if no untoward event should intervene, that the average annual re- 
ceipts from the customs will be equal to the sum of $16,370,000, the sura 
which the commerce of last year ought to have yielded, as has been shown, 
under ordinary circumstances. 

Your committee will next inquire what will be the probable amount of re- 
ceipts from the public lands during the period in question. The receipts from 
that source during the last year, according to a statement from the treasury, 
equalled $5,020,940. This, however, probably greatly exceeds the permanent 
receipts from that source, as it was caused, probably, by the great quantity of 
rich and valuable land thrown into the market during the year. The receipts 
of 1833 equalled $3,967,682, and that of the last four years averaged $3,705,405. 
If we take into consideration, with these facts, the rapid increase of our popu- 
lation, the steady rise in landed property generally, the vast quantity of lands 
held by the government, it is believed to be a safe estimate, that the average an- 
nual income from this source, during the period in question, will be at least equal 
to $3,500,000. 

Of the remaining sources of revenue, the bank dividends is the only one that 
requires notice. They amounted in 1833 to $450,000;* and it is probable that 
they will give an equal annual income till the expiration of its charter, 1836, 
after which time there will be a reduction from the income of the government 
equal to the annual dividends ; but it is believed, by those who are most familiar 
with the subject, that a retrenchment in the collection of the customs, by a reform- 
ation of that branch of the administration, may be effected, at least equal to this re- 
duction. It cost the government the last year $1,350,000 to collect $14,222,448, 
which is more than equal to nine per cent. ; a rate, considering the facility of 
collecting this branch of the revenue, and the decreased inducement to elude 
the duties in consequence of the great reduction in the rate of duties, altogether 

If these calculations should prove correct, the average income of the gov- 
ernment for the next seven years, not including incidental items, will equal 
$20,320,000, making in the whole period the aggregate sum of $142,240,000 ; to 
which, if we add the residue of the government stock in the United States Bank, 
amounting to $6,343,400, and which must be paid into the treasury at the ex- 
piration of its charter, and the surplus in the treasury on the 31st of December 
last, which, after deducting $2,000,000, will amount to $6,695,981, it will 
give an aggregate sum of $148,679,381 ; which, divided by seven, will make 
the average annual sum, subject to the disposition of the government for the 
next seven years, amount to $21,239,911. 

Such being the probable average annual income and means of the govern- 
ment for the seven ensuing years, the next question which presents itself for 
consideration is. What ought to be the average expenditure for the same period? 

The expenditure for the year 1834, as taken from the annual report of the 
Secretary of the Treasury, equals $19,430,373, and for the preceding year 
$22,713,753 ; deducting in both cases the payments on accoimt of the public 
debt. Your committee are, however, of the opinion, that these amounts far 
exceed what ought to be the expenditure on a just and economical scale, and 
that it may be very greatly reduced without injury to the public service. They 
are also of opinion, that to this great and extravagant expenditure may be at- 

* The amount of dividends for 1834 could not be obtained from the treasury. 

or LAlLx^tirj^ \Jr iii^nii v>» o2iijn\j c i^« 

tributed, in no small degree, the disease which now threatens so seriously the 
body politic. That a just conception may be formed of this extraordinary' in- 
crease, they have annexed a table of expenditures from the year 1823 to 1833, 
deducting the payment on account of the public debt, by which it appears that, 
in this short period of ten years, the expenditure has risen from 89,784,000 
to 822,713,000, being an increase in the latter over the former of almost 
$3,000,000 beyond the whole expenditure of the government in 1823, exclu- 
ding, as stated, the public debt ; and this, too, during a period of profound peace, 
when not an event had occurred calculated to warrant any unusual expenditure. 
Of this enormous increase the greater part occurred in the last three years, in 
which time the expenditure has risen nearly $9,000,000, which may well ac- 
count for the present dangerous symptoms. 

Your committee have not time to give that minute attention to the expendi- 
tures necessary to determine what particular items can or ought to be retrenched ; 
nor do they deem it important, at present, to enter into so laborious an inquiry, 
even if time did not prevent. It is sufficient for their purpose to as«ume that 
the expenditures of 1823 were, at the time, considered ample to meet all the just 
wants of the government ; and that, so far from being a period distinguished by 
parsimony, the then administration were thought by many to be iinreasonably 
profuse, and were, accordingly, the object of systematic attacks on account of 
their supposed extravagance. Assuming, then, the expenditure of $9,784,000 
to have been ample at that period, the question which presents itself is. What 
ought it to be at present, taking into consideration the necessity of increased 
expenditures in consequence of increased population ? 

They have already shown that the government cannot bear a permanent in- 
crease of expenditure in proportion to the growth of the population, which may 
be estimated at about three per cent., without an increase of patronage which 
must, in its progress, inevitably prove fatal to the institutions and liberty of the 
country. On this principle, the expenditure, instead of increasing nearly thir- 
teen millions in ten years, as it has, ought to have increased much less than 
three, ought not, in the opinion of your committee, to have exceeded two 
millions at the farthest. Assuming that sum as a liberal allowance, and adding 
it to the expenditure of 1823, we shall have the sum of $11,784,000, beyond 
which the present expenditure ought not to have passed, including the pensions ; 
and, excluding them, $10,012,412, instead of $22,713,000, the sum actually 

But it is believed that this sum will very considerably exceed, on the basis 
assumed, what ought to be the average annual expenditure for the next seven 
years. Of the items which compose the present expenditure, that for pensions 
constituted, last year, the sum of $3,341,877. Considering the advanced age 
of the pensioners, there ought to be, according to the anrAiity tables, a decrease 
by deaths of fourteen per cent, annually, which, in seven years, would diminish 
the expenditure on pensions from the sum above mentioned to $1,040,802 annu- 
ally, giving an annual average deduction of $328,725, and would reduce the 
expenditure on pensions for the ensuing seven years to an average sum of 
$2,048,000. Add this sum to $10,012,412, the sum beyond which the present 
expenditure ought not to extend, excluding the pensions, and we shall have 
$12,060,412, as what the annual average expenditure for the next seven years 
ought to be. 

Take this from the sum of $21,239,911, Avhich, as has been shown, will be 
the probable average aimual means of the government for the same period, and 
it would leave $9,170,499 ; or, in round numbers, for the facility of calculation, 
nine millions, as the average surplus means during the period at the disposition 
of the government, on the supposition that the expenditures will be reduced to 
the economical wants of the government. 

Having shown what will be the probable surplus revenue should the expen- 


cr£jj:.v^neiO \jr jxjtin \j, K^ALttiuviMn 

diture be reduced to its proper limits, the committee propose next to consider 
whether, under existing circumstances, the revenue can be reduced. 

The two great sources of revenue are lands and customs. The others (not 
including the postoffice, which is a particular fund) are of small amount. Af- 
ter a careful investigation, your committee are of opinion that the act of 3d of 
ilarch, 183.3, has reduced the duties on imports, with some exceptions, as far 
as is practicable, under existing circumstances, consistently with the intent and 
spirit of the act. 

The act provides, among other things, that after the 31st day of December, 
1 833, in all cases where the duties shall exceed twenty per cent, ad valorem, 
one tenth part of such excess shall be reduced, and, in like manner, one tenth, 
part every two years, till the 3Ist of December, 1839 ; and that, on the 31st of 
December, 1841, one half of the residue of such excess shall be deducted ; 
and on the 30th of June, 1842, the residue. It also provides that, till the 30th 
of June, 1842, the duties imposed by the then existing law shall remain un- 
changed, except as provided in the sixth section. 

Your comnuttee do not deem it necessary to inquire whether the circumstan- 
ces under which it passed inv^olves anything in the nature of a pledge or con- 
tract, which would forbid any alterations of its provissions. It is sufficient for 
their purpose to state the fact, that the act is the result of a compromise between 
great sectional interests, brought into conflict under circumstances which threat- 
ened the peace and safety of the country ; and that it continues to be the only 
ground on which the adjustment of the controversy can stand. Under these 
circumstances, to disregard the provisions of the act would be to open a contro- 
versy which your committee hope is closed forever : a controversy which, if 
renewed, would do more to increase the power and influence of the executive 
than any other event that could occur. With the impression, then, that the 
provisions of the act cannot be disturbed without endangering the peace of the 
country, and adding greatly, by its consequences, to executive patronage, your 
committee have limited their inquiries to the reduction of the duties on such ar- 
ticles as, by the provisions of the act, are subject to be reduced ; and, after a 
careful investigation, they are of the opinion that all the reductions which caa 
be effected, consistently with the spirit of the compromise, are inconsiderable ; 
and that, to make those that might be made, would require too much time and 
investigation to permit it to be done at this session, as will appear by a reference 
to the letter of the Secretary of the Treasury, herewith annexed; but, in order 
that the subject may be taken up with full information at the next session, they 
have instructed their chairman to submit a resolution for the consideration of 
the Senate, directing the Secretary of the Treasury to report, at the commence- 
ment of the next session, what duties under twenty per cent, ad valorem may, 
with a due regard to the manufacturing interests of the country, be repealed or 
reduced, with an estimate of the probable amount of the reduction. 

In turning from the customs to the public lands, your committee find that the 
difficulty of reducing the revenue from that source is not less considerable than 
that from the customs. They fully agree in that liberal policy in relation to the 
public lands that regards them as the means of settlement, as well as a source 
of revenue ; and that they should be disposed of, accordingly, in the manner best 
calculated to diff"use a flourishing and happy population over the vast regions 
placed under our dominion ; a policy, the wisdo'n of which is best illustrated 
by the wonderful success with which it has been accomplished. It is an es- 
sential maxim of this noble and generous policy, that the price of the public 
lands should be fixed so low as to be accessible to the great mass of the citi- 
zens, and, at the same time, so high as not to subject them to the monopoly of 
the great capitalists of the country. Your committee are of opinion that this 
happy medium is attained by the present price ; and, judging from many indica- 
tions of late, that no considerable reduction can be made in the price without 


making them the prey of hungry and voracious speculators and monopolists, to 
the great injury of the honest and industrious portion of the community, as 
well as to the portion of the country where the lands may be situated. Be this, 
however, as it may, it is at least certain that the immediate effect of reduction 
would be to increase rather than diminish the revenue from lands, and, of course, 
to augment instead of reducing the public income. 

To this may be added another, and, under ordinary circumstances, conclusive 
objection against the reduction. 

The reduction of the price of public lands, while it would act, in effect, as a 
bounty to the purchasers from the government, by enabling them to acquire more 
land for the same sum of money, would act, at the same time, as a tax upon the 
entire body of landholders, who constitute the great mass of our population — a 
tax on them immeasurably greater than the bounty to the purchasers. 

The government of the United States is, in fact, the great land-dealer of the 
country, and, as such, has the power, by raising or reducing the price of its lands, 
to reduce or raise, in a greater or less degree, the value of lands everywhere, 
and, of course, to affect in the same degree the property of the landholders 
throughout the Union. To what extent any given reduction of the price of pub- 
lic lands would affect the price of lands generally, would be difficult, if not im- 
possible, to ascertain. It would be greater or less, according to the circumstan- 
ces. The price of land in the adjacent portion of the country, or that from 
which emigration principally flowed, would be reduced nearly in the same pro- 
portion with that of the public lands ; that is, if the price of public lands be re- 
duced one half, lands adjacent, or lying in the emigrating portion of the countrj-, 
would generally fall one half, while the more remote would be less affected, in 
proportion to distance and the absence of emigration. But it may be safely as- 
sumed, taking the whole country, that the actual fall in the value of lands gen- 
erally, in the hands of the holders, would greatly exceed the actual reduction of 
the price of public lands. To illustrate : if the price of the latter be reduced 
one half, which at present would be sixty-two and one half cents per acre, lands 
generally throughout the country would be reduced in value per acre much 
more than that sum ; and if the far greater quantity held by the whole body of 
land proprietors, compared to the quantity sold by the government, be taken into 
the estimate, some idea may be formed how great the aggregate loss of the pro- 
prietors generally would be, on any reduction of price, compared with the ag- 
gregate gain of the purchasers. As great, however, as it must be, none who 
know the public spirit and enlightened patriotism of that great and respectable 
portion of our citizens can doubt their cheerful acquiescence in the sacrifice, 
should the public interest, or the fundamental maxim which ought to govern in 
the disposition of the public lands, require it ; but, otherwise, it would be a plain 
and palpable sacrifice of one, and that the largest portion of the community, to 
the other, without a corresponding benefit. In presenting this view, it is not 
the intention of your committee to offer any opinion on the propriety of a grad- 
uated reduction, as a measure of general policy, in the price of such public lands 
as have remained long in the market unsold, and of which there is no imme- 
diate prospect of making sale at the present price, because of their inferior qual- 
ity. Their case is very distinguishable from that of the great body of the pub- 
lic lands ; but the immediate effects of such reduction would obviously be to 
raise instead of reduce the revenue, and would, of course, increase instead of 
diminish the difficulty under consideration. 

Having now shown that no other reduction of the revenue can be effected, 
uifider existing circumstances, than the progressive reduction already provided 
for by the act of March 2d, 1833, in either of the great sources of our public 
income, with the exception already stated, your committee will next proceed to 
inquire whether executive patronage can be reduced by reducing the expendi- 
tures of the government. 

The result of their investigation on this point is, that, for reasons which will 
hereafter be offered, a reduction of expenditure, under existing circumstances, 
would tend to increase instead of reducing executive patronage. But if it were 
otherwise, it would be found utterly impracticable, for reasons already assigned, 
to reduce the expenditure much below the income. Experience has abundant- 
ly proved that, so long as there is a large surplus in the treasury, the interests 
in favour of its expenditure will ever be stronger than that opposed to it ; and 
that no prudential consideration, arising from the necessity of accumulating 
funds to meet future wants, or the hazard of enlarging executive patronage, or 
the danger of corrupting the political and public morals of the country by use- 
less and profuse expenditure, or any other whatever, is sufficient to resist the 
temptation to expend. If one unworthy object of appropriation is defeated, an- 
other, with no greater claims on the public bounty or justice, will ever stand 
ready to urge its claims, till the frugal and patriotic are wearied out with inces- 
sant and useless efforts to guard the treasury. But were it practicable, with 
an overflowing treasury, to bring the expenditures within proper limits, such is 
the present condition of things, that to reduce expenditure would, as has been 
stated, increase the patronage of the executive, and that to an extent so great 
that no object of expenditure can be suggested, having a plausible claim on the 
justice or boiuity of the public, which would tend half so much to increase his 
patronage as leaving the public money unexpended, to accumulate as surplus 
revenue in the deposite banks. 

To realize the truth of this remark, it must be borne in mind that the depos- 
ites are under the exclusive control of the executive ; that they are deposited 
in banks selected by him ; that they have the free use of them without com- 
pensation to the public, and they may be continued or dismissed as depositories 
of the public funds, at the pleasure of the executive. 

With these facts before us, the result must be obvious. To accumulate a per- 
manent surplus revenue in the banks is, in fact, but to add so much additional 
bank capital — capital, in this case, exclusively under executive control, without 
check or limitation ; and, with its increasing amount, daily giving to him a 
greater control over the deposite banks, and, through them, over the banking 
institutions of the country generally : thus adding the deep and wide-spread 
influence of the banks to the already almost overwhelming patronage of the 

As the expenditure cannot be reduced, the next inquiry is, whether some ob- 
ject of general utility, in which every portion of the country has an interest, may 
not be selected as a fixed and permanent object on which to expend the sur- 
plus revenue. 

Your committee admit that, if such an object of expenditure could be selected, 
under a well-regulated system of disbursements established by law, much of the 
patronage incident to the present loose and unregulated disbursements might be 
curtailed ; but they are at a loss to find such an object. Internal improvement 
approaches the nearest; but there is opposed to it, with the object in view, in- 
superable objections. To pass by the formidable difficulty, the long-establish- 
ed diversity of opinion as to its constitutionality, which divides the two great 
sections of the country, experience has shown that there is no expenditure so 
little susceptible of being regulated by law ; none calculated to excite deeper 
competition, or to enlist a greater number in its favour, in proportion to the 
amount expended ; and, of course, calculated to add more to executive patron- 
age. To these an additional objection of a recent origin may be added. Your 
committee allude, to the executive veto, as applied to internal improvements, the 
effect of which has been to increase very considerably his power and patronage 
in reference to this branch of expendituie. The executive, in his veto mes- 
sage, assumes the ground that internal improvements may or may not be con- 
stitutional, according to the nature of each particular object ; the distinction to 


be determined by him in the exercise of his constitutional function of giving or 
withholding his approval to acts of Congress ; the practical effect of which is 
to draw within his control the power and influence which appertain, not only 
to the administration, but also to the enactment of the law ; and, of course, to in- 
crease in the same degree his influence and patronage in reference to internal 

In making these remarks, the object of your committee is not to call in ques- 
tion the motive of the executive, or his right to draw what distinction he may 
think just and right in the exercise of his veto power, or the correctness of the 
distinctions in reference to the particular subject under consideration ; but sim- 
ply to exhibit the full extent of the objections to selecting it as the subject on 
which to expend the surplus revenue — objections, in their nature, incapable of 
being wholly removed even by an amendment of the Constitution, were an 
amendment practicable. 

But if no subject of expenditure can be selected on which the surplus can be 
safely expended, and if neither the revenue nor expenditure can, under existing 
circumstances, be reduced, the next inquiry is. What is to be done with the sur- 
plus 1 which, as has been shown, will probably equal, on an average, for the next 
eight years, the sum of $9,000,000 beyond the just wants of the government : 
a surplus of which, unless some safe disposition can be made, all other means 
of reducing the patronage of the executive must prove ineffectual. 

Your committee are deeply sensible of the great difficulty of finding any sat- 
isfactory solution of this question ; but, believing that the very existen«;e of our 
institutions, and, with them, the liberty of the country, may depend on the suc- 
cess of their investigation, they have carefully explored the whole gTound, and 
the result of their inquiry is, that but one means has occurred to them holding 
out any reasonable prospect of success. A few preliminary remarks will be 
necessary to explain their views. 

Amid all the difiiculties of our situation, there is one consolation — that the 
danger from executive patronage, as far as it depends on excess of revenue, 
must be temporary. Assuming that the act of 2d of March, 1833, will be left 
undisturbed by its provisions, the income, after the year 1842, is to be reduced 
to the economical wants of the government. The government, then, is in a 
state of passage from one where the revenue is excessive, to another in which, 
at a fixed and no distant period, it will be reduced to its proper limits. The 
difiiculty, in the intermediate time, is, that the revenue cannot be brought down 
to the expenditure, nor the expenditure, without great danger, raised to the rev- 
enue, for reasons already explained. How is this difficulty to be overcome ? 
It might seem that the simple and natural means would be to vest the surplus 
in some safe and profitable stock, to accumulate for future use ; but the difficul- 
ty in such a course will, on examination, be found insuperable. 

At the very commencement, in selecting the stock, there would be great, if 
not insurmountable difiiculties. No one would think of investing the surplus in 
bank stock, against which there are so many, and such decisive reasons, that it 
is not deemed necessary to state them ; nor would the objections be less deci- 
sive against vesting in the stock of the states, which would create the danger- 
ous relation of debtor and creditor between the government and the members of 
the Union. But suppose this difficulty surmounted, and that some stock, per- 
fectly safe, was selected, there would still remain another that could not be sur- 
mounted. There cannot be found a stock with an interest in its favour suffi- 
ciently strong to compete with the interests which, with a large surplus reve- 
nue, will ever be found in favour of expenditures. It must be perfectly obvious 
to all who have the least experience, or who will duly reflect on the subject, 
that, were a fund selected in which to vest the surplus revenue for future use, 
there would be found in practice a constant conflict between the interest in fa- 
vour of some local or favourite scheme of expenditure, and that in favour of the 

ariiii^jyjacja \jr jutin o. V/Ajjnuuii. 

stock. Nor can it be less obrious that, in point of fact, the former would prove 
far stronger than the latter. The result is obvious. The surplus, be it ever 
so great, would be absorbed by appropriations instead of being vested in the 
stock, and the scheme, of course, would, in practice, prove an abortion ; which 
brings us back to the original inquiry, How is the surplus to be disposed of un- 
til the excess shall be reduced to the just and economical wants of the govern- 
ment ? 

After bestowing on this question, on the successful solution of which so much 
depends, the most deliberate attention, your committee, as they have already 
stated, can advise but one means by which it can be effected ; and that is an 
amendment of the Constitution, authorizing the temporary distribution of the 
surplus revenue among the states till the year 1843, when, as has been shown, 
the income and expenditure will be equalized. 

Your committee are fully aware of the many and fatal objections to the dis- 
tribution of the surplus revenue among the states, considered as a part of the 
ordinary and regular system of this government. They admit them to be as 
great as can be well imagined. The proposition itself, that the government 
should collect money for the purpose of such distribution, or should distribute a 
surplus for the purpose o( perpetuating taxes, is too absurd to require refutation ; 
and yet what would be, when applied, as supposed, so absurd and pernicious, is, 
in the opinion of your committee, in the present extraordinary and deeply-dis- 
ordered state of our affairs, not only useful and salutary, but indispensable to 
the restoration of the body politic to a sound condition : just as some potent 
medicine, which it would be dangerous and absurd to prescribe to the healthy, 
may, to the diseased, be the only means of arresting the hand of death. Dis- 
tribution, as proposed, is not for the preposterous and dangerous purpose of 
raising a revenue for distribution, or of distributing the surplus as a means of 
perpetuating a system of duties or taxes, but a temporary measure to dispose of 
an unavoidable surplus while the revenue is in the course of reduction, and 
which cannot be otherwise disposed of without greatly aggravating a disease 
that threatens the most dangerous consequences ; and which holds out hope, 
not only of arresting its farther progress, but also of restoring the body politic 
to a state of health and vigour. The truth of this assertion a few observations 
will suffice to illustrate. 

It must be obvious, on a little reflection, that the effects of distribution of the 
surplus would be to place the interests of the states, on all questions of expen- 
diture, in opposition to expenditure, as every reduction of expense would ne- 
cessarily increase the sum to 'be distributed among the states. The effect of 
this would be to convert them, through their interests, into faithful and vigilant 
sentinels on the side of economy and accountability in the expenditures of this 
government ; and would thus powerfully tend to restore the government, in its 
fiscal action, to the honest simplicity of former days. 

It may, perhaps, be thought by some that the power which the distribution 
among the states would bring to bear against the expenditure, and its conse- 
quent tendency to retrench the disbursements of the government, would be so 
strong as not only to curtail useless or improper expenditure, but also the use- 
ful and necessary. Such, undoubtedly, would be the consequence if the pro- 
cess were too long continued ; but in the present irregular and excessive ac- 
tion of the system, when its centripetal force threatens to concentrate all its 
powers in a single department, the fear that the action of this government will 
be too much reduced by the measure under consideration, in the short period to 
which it is proposed to limit its operation, is without just foundation. On the 
contrary, if the proposed measure should be applied in the present diseased 
state of the government, its effect would be like that of some powerful altera- 
tive medicine, operating just long enough to change the present morbid action, 
but not sufficiently long to superinduce another of an opposite character. 



But it may be objected, that, though the distribution might reduce all useless 
expenditure, it would, at the same time, give additional power to the interest in 
favour of taxation. It is not denied that such would be its tendency ; and, if 
the dano-er from increased duties or taxes was at this time as great as that from 
a surplus revenue, the objection would be fatal; but it is confidently believed 
that such is not the case. On the contrary, in proposing the measure, it is as- 
sumed that the act of March 2, 1833, will remain undisturbed. It is on the 
streno-th of this assumption that the measure is proposed, and, as it is believed, 
safely proposed. 

It may, however, be said that the distribution may create, on the part of the 
states, an appetite in its favour which may ultimately lead to its adoption as a 
permanent measure. It may, indeed, tend to excite such an appetite, short as 
is the period proposed for its operation ; but it is obvious that this danger is far 
more than countervailed by the fact, that the proposed amendment to the Con- 
stitution to authorize the distribution would place the power beyond the reach 
of legislative construction, and thus effectually prevent the possibility of its 
adoption as a permanent measure, as it cannot be conceived that three fourths 
of the states will ever assent to an amendment of the Constitution to authorize 
a distribution, except as an extraordinary measure, applicable to some extraor- 
dinary condition of the country like the present. 

Giving, however, to these, and other objections which may be urged, all the 
force that can be claimed for them, it must be remembered, the question is not 
whether the measure proposed is or is not liable to this or that objection, but 
whether any other less objectionable can be devised ; or, rather, whether there 
is any other which promises the least prospect of relief that can be applied. 
Let not the delusion prevail that the disease, after running through its natural 
course, will terminate of itself, without fatal consequences. Experience is op- 
posed to such anticipations. Many and striking are the examples of free states 
perishing under that excess of patronage which now afflicts ours. It may, in 
fact, be said with truth, that all, or nearly all, diseases which afflict free govern- 
ments, may be traced directly or indirectly to excess of revenue and expendi- 
ture ; the effect of which is to rally around the government a powerful, corrupt, 
and subservient corps — a corps ever obedient to its will, and ready to sustain 
it in every measure, whether right or wrong, and which, if the cause of the dis- 
ease be not eradicated, must ultimately render the government stronger than 
the people. 

What progress this dangerous disease has already made in our country it is 
not for your committee to say ; but when they reflect on the present symptoms, 
on the almost unboimded extent of executive patronage, wielded by a single 
will ; the surplus revenue, which cannot be reduced within proper limits in less 
than seven years — a period which covers two presidential elections, on both of 
which all this mighty power and influence will be brought to bear — and when 
they consider that, with the vast patronage and influence of this government, 
that of all the states acting in concert with it will be combined, there are just 
grounds to fear that the fate which has befallen so many other free governments 
must also befall ours, unless, indeed, some effectual remedy be forthwith ap- 
plied. It is under this impression that your committee have suggested the one 
proposed, not as free from all objections, but as the only one of sufficient power 
to arrest the disease, and to restore the body politic to a sound condition ; and 
they have, accordingly, reported a resolution so to amend the Constitution that 
the money remaining in the treasury at the end of each year, till the 1st of 
January, 1843, deducting therefrom the sum of $2,000,000 to meet current 
and contingent expenses, shall annually be distributed among the states and 
territories, including the District of Columbia ; and, for that purpose, the sum 
to be distributed to be divided into as many shares as there are senators and 
representatives in Congress, adding two for each territory, and two for the Dis- 


trict of Columbia ; and that there shall be allotted to each state a number of 
shares equal to its representation in both houses, and to the territories, inclu- 
ding the District of Columbia, two shares each. Supposing the surplus to be 
distributed should average $9,000,000 annually, as estimated, it would give to 
each share $30,405 ; which, multiplied by the number of senators and repre- 
sentatives of any state, would show the sum to which it would be entitled. 

The reason for selecting the ratio of distribution proposed in the amendment 
is too obvious to require much illustration. It is that which indicates the rela- 
tive political weight assigned by the Constitution to the members of the confed- 
eracy respectively, and, it is believed, approaches as nearly to equality as any 
other that can be selected. It may be objected that some states, under the 
distribution, may receive more, and others less than their actual contribution to 
the treasury, under the existing system of revenue. The truth of the objec- 
tion may be acknowledged, but it must also be acknowledged that the inequali- 
ty is at least as great under the present system of disbursement, and would be 
as great under any other disposition of the surphis that can be adopted. 

But as effectual as the distribution must be, if adopted, to retrench improper 
expenditure, and reduce correspondingly the patronage of the government, yet 
other means must be added to bring it within safe limits, and to prevent the re- 
currence hereafter of the danger which now threatens the institutions and the 
liberty of the country ; and, with this view, your committee have reported a bill 
to repeal the first and second sections of the act to limit the term of certain 
officers therein named, passed 13th May, 1820; to make it the duty of the 
President to lay before Congress, on the first of January next, and on the first 
of January every four years thereafter, the names of all defaulting officers and 
agents charged with the collection and disbursement of the public money, 
whose commissions shall be vacated from and after the date of such message ; 
and also to make it his duty, in all cases of nomination to fill vacancies occa- 
sioned by removal from office, to assign the reason for which said officer may 
have been removed. 

The provisions of this bill are the same as those contained in bill No. 2, re- 
ported to the Senate on the 4th of May, 1826, by a select committee appointed to 
" inquire into the expediency of reducing the patronage of the government of 
the United States," and which was accompanied by an explanatory report, to 
which your committee would refer the Senate ; and, in order to facilitate the 
reference, they have instructed their chairman to move to reprint the report for 
their use. 

But the great and alarming strides which patronage has made in the short 
period that has intervened since the date of the report, has demonstrated the 
necessity of imposing other limitations on the discretionary powers of the ex- 
ecutive, particularly in reference to the General Postoffice and the public funds, 
on which important subject the executive has an almost unlimited discretion as 
things now are. 

In a government like ours, liable to dangers so imminent from the excess 
and abuse of patronage, it would seem extraordinary that a department of such 
vast powers, with an annual income and expenditure so great, and with a host 
of persons in its service, extending and ramifying itself to the remotest point, 
and into every neighbourhood of the Union, and having a control over the cor- 
respondence and intercourse of the whole community, should be permitted to 
remain so long, without efficient checks or responsibility, under the almost un- 
limited control of the executive. Such a power, wielded by a single will, is 
sufficient of itself, when made an instrument of ambition, to contaminate the 
community, and to control to a great extent public opinion. To guard against 
this danger, and to impose effectual restrictions on executive patronage, acting 
through this important department, your committee are of the opinion that an 
entire reorganization of the department is required ; but their labour, in refer- 


ence to this subject, has been superseded by the Comrnittee on the Postoffice, 
which has bestowed so much attention on it, and which is so much more mi- 
nutely acquainted with the diseased state of the department than your committee 
can be, that it would be presumption on their part to attempt to add to their 

But, as expensive and dangerous as is the patronage of the executive through 
the postoffice department, it is not much less so in reference to the public 
funds, over which, as has been stated, it now has unlimited control, and, through 
them, over the entire banking system of the country. With a banking system 
spread from Maine to Louisiana, from the Atlantic to the utmost West, consist- 
ing of not less than five or six hundred banks, struggling among themselves for 
existence and gain, with an immense public fund under the control of the ex- 
ecutive, to be deposited in whatever banks he may favour, or to be withdrawn at 
his pleasure, it is impossible for ingenuity to devise any scheme better calcu- 
lated to convert the surplus revenue into a most potent engine of power and in- 
fluence ; and, it may be added, of peculation, speculation, corruption, and fraud. 
The first and most decisive step against this danger is that already proposed, 
of distributing the surplus revenue among the states, which will prevent its 
growing accumulation in the banks, and, with it, the corresponding increase of 
executive power and influence over the banking system. In addition, your 
committee have reported a bill to charge the deposite banks at the rate of 
per cent, per annum for the use of the public funds, to be calculated on the 
average monthly deposites ; to prohibit transfers, except for the purpose of dis- 
bursements ; and to prevent a removal of the public funds from the banks in 
which they are now, or may hereafter be deposited, without the consent of 
Congress, except as is provided in the bill. The object of the bill is to secure 
to the government an equivalent for the use of the public funds, to prevent the 
abuses and influence incident to transfer-warrants, and to place the deposite 
banks, as far as it may be practicable, beyond the control of the executive. 

In addition to these measures, there are, doubtless, many others connected 
with the customs — Indian affairs, public lands, army, navy, and other branches 
of the administration — into which, it is feared, there have crept many abuses, 
which have unnecessarily increased the expenditures and the number of per- 
sons employed, and, with them, the executive patronage ; but to reform which 
would require a more minute investigation into the general state of the adminis- 
tration than your committee can at present bestow. Should the measures which 
they have recommended receive the sanction of Congress, they feel a strong 
conviction that they \vill greatly facilitate the work of carrying accountability, 
retrenchment, and economy through every branch of the administration, and 
thereby reduce the patronage of the executive to those safe and economical 
limits which are necessary to a complete restoration of the equilibrium of the 
system, now so dangerously disturbed. Your committee are deeply impressed 
with the necessity of commencing early, and of carrying through to its full and 
final completion, this great work of reform. 

The disease is daily becoming more aggravated and dangerous, and, if it be 
permitted to advance for a few years longer with the rapidity with which it 
has of late, it will soon pass beyond the reach of remedy. This is no party 
question. Every lover of his country and of its institutions, be his party what 
it may, must see and deplore the rapid growth of patronage, with all its attend- 
ant evils, and the certain catastrophe which awaits its farther progress, if not 
timely arrested. The question now is not how, or where, or with whom the 
danger originated, but how it is to be arrested ; not the cause, but the remedy ; 
not how our institutions and liberty have been endangered, but how they are to 
be rescued. 



MAIL, FEBRUARY 4, 1836. 

The Select Committee to vjhom was referred that portion of the President's Mes- 
sage tohich relates to the attempts to circulate, through the mail, inflammatory 
appeals, to excite the slaves to insurrection, submit the following report : 

The committee fully concur with the President as to the character and ten- 
dency of the papers which have been attempted to be circulated in the South 
through the mail, and participate with him in the indignant regret which he ex- 
presses at conduct so destructive of the peace and harmony of the country, and 
SO repugnant to the Constitution and the dictates of humanity and religion. They 
also concur in the hope that, if the strong tone of disapprobation which these 
unconstitutional and wicked attempts have called forth does not arrest them, 
the non-slaveholding states will be prompt to exercise their power to suppress 
them, as far as their authority extends. But, while they agree with the Presi- 
dent as to the evil and its highly dangerous tendency, and the necessity of ar- 
resting it, they have not been able to assent to the measure of redress which he 
recommends — that Congress should pass a law prohibiting, under severe pen- 
alty, the transmission of incendiary publications through the mail, intended to 
instigate the slaves to insurrection. 

After the most careful and deliberate investigation, they have been constrain- 
ed to adopt the conclusion that Congress has not the power to pass such a law ; 
that it Avould be a violation of one of the most sacred provisions of the Consti- 
tution, and subversive of reserved powers essential to the preservation of the 
domestic institutions of the slaveholding states, and, with them, their peace and 
security. Concurring, as they do, with the President in the magnitude of the 
evil and the necessity of its suppression, it would hare been the cause of deep 
regret to the committee, if they thought the difference of opinion, as to the right 
of Congress, Avould deprive the slaveholding states of any portion of the protec- 
tion which the measure recommended by the President was intended to afford 
them. On the contrary, they believe all the protection intended may be afford- 
ed, according to the views they take of the power of Congress, without infrin- 
ging on any provision of the Constitution on one side, or the reserved rights of 
the states on the other. 

The committee, with these preliminary reniarks, will now proceed to estab- 
lish the positions Avhich they have assumed, beginning with the first — that the 
passage of a law would be a violation of an express provision of the Constitution. 

In the discussion of this point, the committee do not deem it necessary to in- 
quire whether the right to pass such a law can be derived from the power to 
establish postoflices and postroads, or from the trust of " preserving the relation 
created by the Constitution between the states," as supposed by the President. 
However ingenious or plausible the arguments may be by which it may be at- 
tempted to derive the right from these or any other sources, they must fall short 
of their object. The jealous spirit of liberty which characterized our ancestors 
at the period when the Constitution was adopted, forever closed the door by 
which the right might be implied from any of the granted powers, or any other 
source, if there be any other. The committee refer to the amended article of 
the Constitution, which, among other things, provides that Congress shall pass 
no law which shall abridge the liberty of the press — a provision which inter- 
poses, as will be hereafter shown, an insuperable objection to the measure rec- 


ommended by the President. That the true meaning of this provision may be 
fully comprehended, as bearing on the point under consideration, it will be ne- 
cessary to recur briefly to the history of the adoption of the Constitution. 

It is well known that great opposition was made to the adoption of the Con- 
stitution. It was acknowledged on all sides, at the time, that the old confeder- 
ation, from its weakness, had failed, and that something must be done to save 
the country from anarchy and convulsion ; yet, so high was the spirit of liberty 
— so jealous were our ancestors of that day of power, that the utmost efforts 
were necessary, under all the then existing pressure, to obtain the assent of the 
states to the ratification of the Constitution. Among the many objections to its 
adoption, none were more successfully urged than the absence in the instrument 
of those general provisions which experience had shown to be necessary to 
guard the outworks of liberty : such as the freedom of the press and of speech, 
the rights of conscience, of trial by jury, and others of like character. It was 
the belief of those jealous and watchful guardians of liberty, who viewed the 
adoption of the Constitution with so much apprehension, that all these sacred 
barriers, without some positive provision to protect them, would, by the power 
of construction, be undermined and prostrated. So strong was this apprehen- 
sion, that it was impossible to obtain a ratification of the instmment in many of 
the states without accompanying it with the recommendation to incorporate in 
the Constitution various articles, as amendments, intended to remove this defect, 
and guard against the danger apprehended, by placing these important rights 
beyond the possible encroachment of Congress. One of the most important of 
these is that which stands at the head of the list of amended articles, and which, 
among other things, as has been stated, prohibits the passage of any law abridg- 
ing the freedom of the press, and which left that important barrier against pow- 
er under the exclusive authority and control of the states. 

That it was the object of this provision to place the freedom of the press be- 
yond the possible interference of Congress, is a doctrine not now advanced for 
the first time. It is the ground taken, and so ably sustained by Mr. Madison, 
in his celebrated report to the Virginia Legislature, in 1799, against the alien 
and sedition law, and which conclusively settled the principle that Congress 
has no right, in any form or in any manner, to interfere with the freedom of 
the press.* The establishment of this principle not only overthrew the se- 
dition act, but was the leading cause of the great political revolution which, 
in 1801, brought the Republican party, with Mr. Jefterson at its head, into 

With these remarks, the committee will turn to the sedition act, in order to 
show the identity in principle between it and the act which the message recom- 
mends to be passed, as far as it relates to the freedom of the press. Among its 
other provisions, it inflicted punishment on all persons who should publish any 
false, scandalous, or malicious writing against the government, with intent to 
defame the same, or bring it into contempt or disrepute. Assuming this pro- 
vision to be unconstitutional, as abridging the freedom of the press, which no 
one now doubts, it will not be difficult to show that if, instead of inflicting pun- 
ishment for publishing, the act had inflicted punishment for circulating through 
the mail for the same offence, it would have been equally unconstitutional. The 
one would have abridged the freedom of the press as effectually as the other. The 
object of publishing is circulation ; and to prohibit circulation is, in efl'ect, to 
prohibit publication. They both have a common object — the communication 
of sentiments and opinions to the public ; and the prohibition of one may as 
effectually suppress such communication as the prohibition of the other ; and, of 

* The article is in the following words : 

" Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exer- i 
cise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ; or the right of the people peaceably * 
to assemble, and petition the government for a redress of grievances." 


course, would as effectually interfere with the freedom of the press, and be 
equally unconstitutional. 

But, to understand more fully the extent of the control which the right of 
prohibiting circulation through the mail would give to the government over the 
press, it must be borne in mind that the power of Congress over the post- 
office and the mail is an exclusive power. It must also be remembered that 
Congress, in the exercise of this power, may declare any road or navigable 
water to be a post-road; and that, by the act of 1825, it is provided "that no 
stage, or other vehicle which regularly performs trips on a post-road, or on a 
road parallel to it, shall carry letters." The same provision extends to packets, 
boats, or other vessels, on navigable waters. Like provision may be extended 
to newspapers and pamphlets ; which, if it be admitted that Congress has the right 
to discriminate in reference to their character, what papers shall or what shall 
not be transmitted by the mail, would subject the freedom of the press on all 
subjects, political, moral, and religious, completely to its will and pleasure. It 
would, in fact, in some respects, more effectually control the freedom of the 
press than any sedition law, however severe its penalties. The mandate of the 
government alone would be sufficient to close the door against circulation through 
the mail ; and thus, at its sole will and pleasure, might intercept all communica- 
tion between the press and the people, while it would require the intervention 
of courts and juries to enforce the provisions of a sedition law, which experi- 
ence has shown are not always passive and willing instruments in the hands of 
government, where the freedom of the press is concerned. 

From these remarks, it must be apparent that, to prohibit publication on one 
side, and circulation through the mail on the other, of any paper, on account of 
its religious, moral, or political character, rests on the same principle ; and that 
each is equally an abridgment of the freedom of the press, and a violation of 
the Constitution. It would, indeed, have been but a poor triumph for the cause 
of liberty, in the great contest of 1799, had the sedition law been put down on 
principles that would have left Congress free to suppress the circulation through 
the mail of the very publications which that odious act was intended to pro- 
hibit. The authors of that memorable achievement would have had but slen- 
der claims on the gratitude of posterity, if their victory over the encroachment 
of power had been left so imperfect. 

It will, after what has been said, require but few remarks to show that the 
same principle which applied to the sedition law woidd apply equally to a law 
punishing, by Congress, such incendiary publications as are referred to in the 
message, and, of course, to the passage of a law prohibiting their transmission 
through the mail. The principle on which the sedition act was condemned as 
unconstitutional was a general one, and not limited in its application to that act. 
It withdraws from Congress all right of interference with the press, in any form 
or shape whatever ; and the sedition law was put down as unconstitutional, not 
because it prohibited publications against the government, but because it inter- 
fered at all with the press. The prohibition of any publication on the ground 
of its being immoral, irreligious, or intended to excite rebellion or insurrection, 
would have been equally unconstitutional ; and, from parity of reason, the sup- 
pression of their circulation through the mail would be no less so. 

But, as conclusive as these reasons are against the right, there are others not 
less so, derived from the powers reserved to the states, which the committee 
will next proceed to consider. 

The message, as has been stated, recommends that Congress should pass a 
law to punish the transmission through the mail of incendiary publications in- 
tended to instigate the slaves to insurrection. It of course assumes for Congress 
a right to determine what papers are incendiary and intended to excite insur- 
rection. The question, then, is. Has Congress such a right 1 A question of 
vital importance to the slaveholding states, as will appear in the course of the 


After examining this question with due deliberation, in all its bearings, the 
committee are of opinion, not only that Congress has not the right, but to admit 
it would be fatal to the states. Nothing is more clear than that the admission 
of the ri"-ht, on the part of Congress, to determine what papers are incendiary, 
and, as such, to prohibit their circulation through the mail, necessarily involves 
the ri"-ht to determine what are not incendiary, and to enforce their circulation. 
Nor is it less certain that, to admit such a right, would be virtually to clothe 
Congress with the power to abolish slavery, by giving it the means of breaking 
down all the barriers which the slaveholding states have erected for the pro- 
tection of their lives and property. It would give Congress, without regard to 
the prohibition laws of the states, the authority to open the gates to the flood 
of incendiary publications which are ready to break into those states, and to 
punish all who dare resist as criminals. Fortunately, Congress has no such 
right. The internal peace and security of the states are under the protection 
of the states themselves, to the entire exclusion of all authority and control on 
the part of Congress. It belongs to them, and not to Congress, to determine 
what is, or is not, calculated to disturb their peace and security ; and, of course, 
in the case under consideration, it belongs to the slaveholding states to deter- 
mine what is incendiary and intended to incite to insurrection, and to adopt 
such defensive measures as may be necessary for their security, with unUmited 
means of carrying them into effect, except such as may be expressly inhibited 
to the states by the Constitution. To establish the truth of this position, so es- 
sential to the safety of those states, it would seem sufficient to appeal to their 
constant exercise of this right at all times, without restriction or question, both 
before and since the adoption of the Constitution. But, on a point of so much 
importance, which may involve the safetj', if not the existence itself, of an en- 
tire section of the Union, it will be proper to trace it to its origin, in order to 
place it on a more immovable foundation. 

That the states which form our Federal Union are sovereign and independent 
communities, bound together by a constitutional compact, and are possessed of 
all the powers belonging to distinct and separate states, excepting such as are 
delegated to be exercised by the General Government, is assumed as unques- 
tionable. The compact itself expressly provides that all powers not delegated 
are reserved to the states and the people. To ascertain, then, whether the 
power in question is delegated or reserved, it is only necessary to ascertain 
■whether it is to be found among the enumerated powers or not. If it be not 
among them, it belongs, of course, to the reseri'ed powers. On turning to the 
Constitution, it will be seen that, while the power of defending the country 
against external danger is found among the enumerated, the instrument is whol- 
ly silent as to the power of defending the internal peace and security of the 
states, and, of course, reserves to the states this important power, as it stood 
before the adoption of the Constitution, with no other limitation, as has been 
stated, except such as are expressly prescribed by the instrument itself. From 
what has been stated, it may be inferred that the right of a state to defend it- 
self against internal dangers is a part of the great, primary, and inherent right 
of self-defence, which, by the laws of nature, belongs to all communities ; and 
so jealous were the states of this essential right, without which their independ- 
ence could not be preserved, that it is expressly provided by the Constitution,* 
that the General Government shall not assist a state, even in case of domestic 
violence, except on the application of the authorities of the state itself: thus ex- 
cluding, by a necessary consequence, its interference in all other cases. 

Having now shown that it belongs to the slaveholding states, whose institu- 
tions are in danger, and not to Congress, as is supposed by the message, to de- 
termine what papers are incendiary and intended to excite insurrection among 

* See 4th article, 4th eection, of the Constitution. 


the slaves, it remains to inquire, in the next place, what are the corresponding 
duties of the General Government, and the other states, from within whose lim- 
its and jurisdiction their institutions are attacked : a subject intimately connect- 
ed with that with which the committee are immediately charged, and which, 
at the present juncture, ought to be fully understood by all the parties. The 
committee will begin with the first. 

It mav not be entirely useless to premise that rights and duties are recipro- 
cal — the existence of a right always implying a corresponding duty. If, con- 
sequently, the right to protect her internal peace and security belongs to a state, 
the General Government is bound to respect the measures adopted by her for 
that purpose, and to co-operate in their execution, as far as its delegated pow- 
ers may admit, or the measure may require. Thus, in the present case, the 
slaveholding states having the unquestionable right to pass all such laws as may 
be necessary to maintain the existing relation between master and slave in those 
states, their right, of course, to prohibit the circulation of any publication or any 
intercourse calculated to disturb or destroy that relation, is incontrovertible. In 
the execution of the measures which may be adopted by the states for this pur- 
pose, the powers of Congress over the mail, and of regulating commerce with 
foreign nations and between the states, may require co-operation on the part of 
the General Government ; and it is bound, in conformity to the principle estab- 
lished, to respect the laws of the state in their exercise, and so to modify its 
acts as not only not to violate those of the states, but, as far as practicable, to 
co-operate in their execution. The practice of the government has been in 
conformity to these views. 

By the act of the 28th of February, 1803, entitled "An act to prevent the 
importation of certain persons into certain states," where, by the laws of those 
states, their importation is prohibited, masters or captains of ships or vessels are 
forbidden, under severe penalty, " to import or bring, or cause to be imported or 
brought, any negro or mulatto, or person of colour, not being a native or citizen, 
or registered seaman of the United States, or seamen, natives of countries be- 
yond the Cape of Good Hope, into any port or place which shall be situated in 
any state which, by law, has prohibited, or shall prohibit, the admission or im- 
portation of such negro, mulatto, or other person of colour." This provision 
speaks for itself, and requires no illustration. It is a case in point, and fully 
embraces the principle laid down. To the same effect is the act of the 25th of 
February, 1799, respecting quarantine and health laws, which, as belonging to 
the internal police of the states, stand on the same ground. The act, among 
other things, " directs the collectors and all other revenue officers, the masters 
and crews of the revenue cutters, and the military officers in command on the 
station, to co-operate faithfully in the execution of the quarantine and other re- 
strictions which the health laws of the state may establish." 

The principles embraced by these acts, in relation to the commercial inter- 
course of the country, are equally applicable to the intercourse by mail. There 
may, indeed, be more difficulty in co-operating with the states in the latter than 
in the former, but that cannot possibly affect the principle. Regarding it, then, 
as established both by reason and precedents, the committee, in conformity 
with it, have prepared a bill, and directed their chairman to report the same to 
the Senate, prohibiting, under the penalty of fine and dismission from office, any 
deputy postmaster in any state, territory, or district, from knowingly receiving 
and putting into the mail any letter, packet, pamphlet, paper, or pictorial repre- 
sentation, directed to any postoffice or person in a state, territory, or district, by 
the laws of which the circulation of the same is forbidden ; and also prohibit- 
ing, under a like penalty, any deputy postmaster in said state, territory, or dis- 
trict, from knowingly delivering the same, except to such persons as may be 
authorized to receive them by the civil authority of said state, territory, or dis- 



It remains next to inquire into the duty of the states, from within whose lim- 
its and jurisdiction the internal peace and security of the slaveholding states 
are endangered. . ■ ■ % 

In order to comprehend more fully the nature and extent of their duty, it will 
be necessary to make a few remarks on the relations which exist between the 
states of our Federal Union, with the rights and obligations reciprocally result- 
ing from such relations. 

It has already been stated that the states which compose our Federal Union 
are sovereio'n and independent communities, united by a constitutional compact. 
Amono- its members the laws of nations are in full force and obligation, except 
as altered or modified by the compact ; and, of course, the states possess, with 
that exception, all the rights, and are subject to all the duties which separate 
and distinct communities possess, or to which they are subject. Among these 
are comprehended the obligation which all states are under to prevent their citi- 
zens from disturbing the peace or endangering the security of other states ; and, 
in case of being disturbed or endangered, the right of the latter to demand of 
the former to adopt such measures as will prevent their recurrence ; and, if re- 
fused or neglected, to resort to such measures as its protection may require. 
This right remains, of course, in force among the states of this Union, with 
such limitations as are imposed expressly by the Constitution. Within their 
limits, the rights of the slaveholding states are as full to demand of the states 
within whose limits and jurisdiction their peace is assailed, to adopt the meas- 
ures necessary to prevent the same, and, if refused or neglected, to resort to 
means to protect themselves, as if they were separate and independent commu- 

Those states, on the other hand, are not only under all the obligations which 
independent communities would be to adopt such measures, but also under the 
obligation which the Constitution superadds, rendered more sacred, if possible, 
by the fact that, while the Union imposes restrictions on the right of the slave- 
holding states to defend themselves, it afibrds the medium through which their 
peace and security are assailed. It is not the intention of the committee to in- 
quire what those restrictions are, and what are the means which, under the 
Constitution, are left to the slaveholding states to protect themselves. The pe- 
riod has not yet come, and they trust never will, when it may be necessary to 
decide those questions ; but come it must, unless the states whose duty it is to 
suppress the danger shall see in time its magnitude, and the obligations which 
they are under to adopt speedy and effectual measures to arrest its farther prog- 
ress. That the full force of this obligation may be understood by all parties, 
the committee propose, in conclusion, to touch briefly on the movements of the 
Abolitionists, with the view of showing the dangerous consequences to which 
they must lead if not arrested. 

Their professed object is the emancipation of slaves in the Southern States, 
which they propose to accomplish through the agency of organized societies, 
spread throughout the non-slavcholding states, and a powerful press, directed 
mainly to excite in the other states hatred and abhorrence against the institu- 
tions and citizens of the slaveholding states, by addresses, lectures, and picto- 
rial representations, abounding in false and exaggerated statements. 

If the magnitude of the mischief affords, in any degree, the measure by which 
to judge of the criminality of a project, few have ever been devised to be com- 
pared with the present, whether the end be regarded, or the means by which 
it is proposed to be accomplished. The blindness of fanaticism is proverbial. 
With more zeal than understanding, it constantly misconceives the nature of 
the object at which it aims, and towards which it rushes with headlong violence, 
regardless of the means by which it is to be effected. Never was its charac- 
ter more fully exemplified than in the present instance. Setting out with the 
abstract principle that slavery is an evil, the fanatical zealots come at once to 


the conclusion that it is their duty to abolish it, regardless of all the disasters 
which must follow. Never was conclusion more false or dangerous. Admit- 
ting their assumption, there are innumerable things which, regarded in the ab- 
stract, are evils, but which it would be madness to attempt to abolish. Thus 
regarded, government itself is an evil, with most of its institutions intended to 
protect life and property, comprehending the civil as well as the criminal and 
military code, which are tolerated only because to abolish them would be to 
increase instead of diminishing the evil. The reason is equally applicable to 
the case under consideration : to illustrate which, a few remarks on slavery, as 
it actually exists in the Southern States, will be necessary. 

He who regards slavery in those states simply under the relation of master 
and slave, as important as that relation is, viewed merely as a question of prop- 
erty to the slaveholding section of the Union, has a very imperfect conception 
of the institution, and the impossibility of abolishing it without disasters unex- 
ampled in the history of the world. To understand its nature and importance 
fully, it must be borne in m.ind that slavery, as it exists in the Southern States 
(including under the Southern all the slaveholding States), involves not only 
the relation of master and slave, but also the social and political relations of 
two races, of nearly equal numbers, from different quarters of the globe, and the 
most opposite of all others in every particular that distinguishes one race of 
men from another. Emancipation would destroy these relations — would divest 
the masters of their property, and subvert the relation, social and political, that 
has existed between the races from almost the first settlement of the Southern 

It is not the intention of the committee to dwell on the pecuniary aspect 
of this vital subject : the vast amount of property involved, equal, at least, to 
$950,000,000, the ruin of families and individuals', the impoverishment and 
prostration of an entire section of the Union, and the fatal blow that would be 
given to the productions of the great agricultural staples, on which the com- 
merce, the navigation, the manufactures, and the revenue of the country almost 
entirely depend. As great as these disasters woidd be, they are nothing com- 
pared to what must follow the subversion of the existing relation between the 
two races, to which the committee will confine their remarks. 

Under this relation the two races have long lived in peace and prosperity, 
and, if not disturbed, would long continue so to live. While the European race 
has rapidly increased in wealth and numbers, and, at the same time, has main- 
tained an equality, at least morally and intellectually, with their brethren of the 
non-slaveholding states, the African race has multiplied with not less rapidity, 
accompanied by great improvement, physically and intellectually, and a degree 
of comfort w'hich the labouring class in few other countries enjoy, and con- 
fessedly greatly superior to what the free people of the same race possess in 
the non-slaveholding states. It may, indeed, be safely asserted, that there is 
no example in history in which a savage people, such as their ancestors were 
when brought into the country, have ever advanced in the same period so rap- 
idly in numbers and improvement. 

To destroy the existing relations, would be to destroy this prosperity, and to 
place the two races in a state of conflict, which must end in the expulsion or 
extirpation of one or the other. No other can be substituted compatible with 
their peace or security. The difficulty is in the diversity of the races. So 
strongly drawn is the line between the two in consequence, and so strengthen- 
ed by the force of habit and education, that it is impossible for them to exist to- 
gether in the same community, where their numbers are so nearly equal as in 
the slaveholding states, under any other relation than that which now exists. 
Social and political equality between them is impossible. No power on earth 
can overcome the difficulty. The causes lie too deep in the principles of our 
nature to be siu:mounted. But, without such equality, to change the present 


condition of the African race, were it possible, would be but to change the form 
of slavery. It would make them the slaves of the community instead of the 
slaves of individuals, with less responsibility and interest in their welfare on the 
part of the connnunity than is felt by their present masters ; while it would destroy 
the security and independence of the European race, if the African should be per- 
mitted to continue in their changed condition within the limits of those states. 
They would look to the other states for support and protection, and woidd be- 
come, virtually, their allies and dependants ; and would thus place in the hands 
of those states the most effectual instrument to destroy the influence and con- 
trol the destiny of the rest of the Union. 

It is against this relation between the two races that the blind and criminal 
zeal of the Abolitionists is directed — a relation that now preserves in quiet and 
security more than 6,500,000 of human beings, and which cannot be destroyed 
■without destroying the peace and prosperity of nearly half the states of the 
Union, and involving their entire population in a deadly conflict, that must ter- 
minate either in the expulsion or extirpation of those who are the object of the 
misguided and false humanity of those who claim to be their friends. 

He must be blind indeed who does not perceive that the subversion of a re- 
lation which must be followed with such disastrous consequences, can only be 
effected by convulsions that would devastate the country, burst asunder the 
bonds of the Union, and ingulf in a sea of blood the institutions of the country. 
It is madness to suppose that the slaveholding states would quietly submit to be 
sacrificed. Every consideration — interest, duty, and humanity ; the love of 
country, the sense of wrong, hatred of oppressors, and treacherous and faithless 
confederates, and, finally, despair — would impel them to the most daring and 
desperate resistance in defence of property, family, country, liberty, and exist- 

But wicked and cruel as is the end aimed at, it is fully equalled by the 
criminality of the means by which it is proposed to be accomplished. These, 
as has been stated, consist in organized societies and a powerful press, directed 
mainly with a view to excite the bitterest animosity and hatred of the people of 
the non-slaveholding states against the citizens and institutions of the slave- 
holding states. It is easy to see to what disastrous results such means must 
tend. Passing over the more obvious effects, their tendency to excite to insur- 
rection and servile war, with all its horrors, and the necessity which such ten- 
dency must impose on the slaveholding states to resort to the most rigid disci- 
pline and severe police, to the great injury of the present condition of the slaves, 
there remains another threatening, incalculable mischief to the country. 

The inevitable tendency of the means to which the Abolitionists have resort- 
ed to efiect their object must, if persisted' in, end in comjiletely alienating the 
two great sections of the Union. The incessant action of hundreds of societies, 
and a vast printing establishment, throwing out daily thousands of artful and in- 
flammatory publications, must make, in time, a deep impression on the section 
of the Union where they freely circulate, and are mainly designed to hare ef- 
fect. The well-informed and thoughtful may hold them in contempt, but the 
young, the inexperienced, the ignorant, and thoughtless will receive the poison. 
In process of time, when the number of proselytes is sufficiently multiplied, the 
artful and profligate, who are ever on the watch to seize on any means, how- 
ever wicked and dangerous, will unite with the fanatics, and make their move- 
ments the basis of a powerful political party, that will seek advancement by 
difl'using, as widely as possible, hatred against the slaveholding states. But, 
as hatred begets hatred, and animosity animosity, these feelings would become 
reciprocal, till every vestige of attachment woifld cease to exist between the 
two sections ; when the Union and the Constitution, the oflspring of mutual af- 
fection and confidence, would forever perish. 

Such is the danger to which the movements of the Abolitionists expose the 


country. If the force of the obligation is in proportion to the magnitude of tire 
dano-er, stronger cannot be imposed than is at present on the states within 
whose limits the danger originates, to arrest its farther progress — a duty they 
owe, not only to the states whose institutions are assailed, but to the Union and 
Constitution, as has been shown, and, it may be added, to themselves. The 
sober and considerate portions of citizens of the non-slaveholding states, who 
have a deep stake in the existing institutions of the country, would have little 
forecast not to see that the assaults which are now directed against the institu- 
tions of the Southern States may be very easily directed against those which 
uphold their own property and security. A very slight modification of the ar- 
guments used against the institutions which sustain the property and security 
of the South would make them equally effectual against the institutions of the 
North, including banking, in which so vast an amount of its property and capi- 
tal is invested. It would be well for those interested to reflect whether there 
now exists, or ever has existed, a wealthy and civilized community in which 
one portion did not live on the labour of another ; and whether the form in 
which slavery exists in the South is not but one modification of this universal 
condition ; and, finally, whether any other, under all the circumstances of the 
case, is more defensible, or stands on stronger ground of necessity. It is time 
to look these questions in the face. Let those who are interested remember 
that labour is the only source of wealth, and how small a portion of it, in all 
old and civilized countries, even the best governed, is left to those by whose 
labour wealth is created. Let them also reflect how little volition or agency 
the operatives in any country have in the question of its distribution — as little, 
with a few exceptions, as the African of the slaveholding states has in the distri- 
biition of the proceeds of his labour. Nor is it the less oppressive, that in the 
one case it is eff*ected by the stern and powerful will of the government, and iu 
the other by the more feeble and flexible will of a master. If one be an evil, 
so is the other. The only difference is the amount and mode of the exaction 
and distribution, and the agency by which they are effected. 



The question of receiving the petitions from Pennsylvania for the abo- 
lition of slavery in the District of Columbia being under consideration, 

Mr. Calhouu rose and said: If we may judge from what has been said, 
the mind of the Senate is fully made up on the subject of these petitions. 
With the exception of the two senators from V^ermont, all who have 
spoken have avowed their conviction, not only that they contain nothing 
requiring the action of the Senate, but that the petitions are highly mis- 
chievous, as tending to agitate and distract the country, and to endanger 
the Union itself. With these concessions, I may fairly ask, Why should 
these petitions be received 1 Why receive when we have made up our 
mind not to act ] Why idly waste our time and lower our dignity in the 
useless ceremony of receiving to reject, as is proposed, should the peti- 
tions be received] Why, finally, receive what all acknowledge to be 
highly dangerous and mischievous 1 But one reason has, or can be as- 
signed — that not to receive would be a violation of the right of petition, 
and, of course, that we are bound to receive, however objectionable and 
dangerous the petitions may be. If such be the fact, there is an end to 
the question. As great as would be the advantage to the Abolitionists if 
we are bound to receive, if it would be a violation of the right of petition 


not to receive, we must acquiesce. On the other hand, if it shall be 
sliown, not only that we are not bound to receive, but that to receive, on 
the ground on which it has been placed, would sacrifice the constitutional 
rights of this body, would yield to the Abolitionists all they could hope 
at this time, and would surrender all the outworks by which the slave- 
holding states can defend their rights and property hers, then a unani- 
mous rejection of these petitions ought of right to follow. 

The decision, then, of the question now before the Senate is reduced 
to the single point. Are we bound to receive these petitions'? Or, to vary 
the form of the question, Would it be a violation of the right of petition 
not to receive them 1 

When the ground was first taken that it would be a violation, I could 
scarcely persuade myself that those who took it were in earnest, so con- 
trary was it to all my conceptions of the rights of this body and the 
provisions of the Constitution ; but finding it so earnestly maintained, I 
have since carefully investigated the subject, and the result has been a 
confirmation of my first impression, and a conviction that the claim of 
right is without shadow of foundation. The question, I must say, has 
not been fairly met. Those opposed to the side which we support have 
discussed the question as if we denied the right of petition, when they 
could not but know that the true issue is not as to the existence of the 
. right, which is acknowledged by all, but its extent and limits, which not 
one of our opponents has so much as attempted to ascertain. What they 
have declined doing I undertake to perform. 

There must be some point, all will agree, where the right of petition 
ends, and that of this body begins. Where is that point 1 I have exam- 
ined this question carefu]lj\ and I assert boldly, without the least fear of 
refutation, that, stretched to the utmost, the right cannot be extended be- 
yond the presentation of a petition, at which point the rights of this body 
commence. When a petition is presented, it is before the Senate. It 
must then be acted on. Some disposition must be made of it before the 
Senate can proceed to the consideration of any other subject. This no one 
will deny. With the action of the Senate its rights commence : rights 
secured by an express provision of the Constitution, which vests each 
house with the right of regulating its own proceedings, that is, to deter- 
mine by fixed rules the order and form of its action. To extend the ri^ht 
of petition beyond presentation, is clearly to extend it beyond that point 
Avhere the action of the Senate commences, and, as such, is a manifest 
violation of its constitutional rights. Here, then, we have the limits be- 
tween the right of petition and the right of the Senate to regulate its 
proceedings clearly fixed, and so perfectly defined as not to admit of mis- 
take, and, I would add, of controversy, had it not been questioned in this 

If what I have asserted required confirmation, ample might be found in 
our rules, which imbody the deliberate sense of the Senate on this point, 
from the commencement of the government to this day. Among them, 
the Senate has prescribed that of its proceedings on the presentation of 
petitions. It is contained in the Rule, which I ask the secretary to 
read, with Mr. JefTerson's remarks in reference to it. 

" Before any petition or memorial addressed to the Senate shall be re- 
ceived and read at the table, whether the same shall be introduced by the 
President or a member, a brief statement of the contents of the petition 
or memorial shall verbally be made by the introducer." — Rule 24. 

Mr. Jefferson's remarks : " Regularly a motion for receiving it must be 
made and seconded, and a question put whether it shall he received ; but a cry 
from the house of ' Receive,' or even a silence, dispenses with the for- 
mality of the question." 


Here we have a confirmation of all I have asserted. It clearly proves 
that, when a petition is presented, the action of the Senate commences. 
The first act is to receive the petition. Received by whom ] Not the 
secretary, but the Senate. And how can it be received by the Senate 
but on a motion to receive, and a vote of a m.ajority of the body 1 And 
Mr. Jeiierson, accordingly, tells us that, regularly, such a motion must be 
made and seconded. On this question, then, the right of the Senate 
begins, and its right is as perfect and full to receive or reject, as it is to 
adopt or reject any other question, in any subsequent stage of its pro- 
ceedings. When I add that this rule was adopted as far back as the 19th 
of April, 1789, at the first session of the Senate, and that it has been re- 
tained, without alteration, in all the subsequent changes and modifications 
of the rules, we have the strongest evidence of the deliberate sense of this 
body in reference to the point under consideration. 

I feel that I might here terminate the discussion. I have shown con- 
clusively that the right of petition cannot possibly be extended beyond 
presentation. At that point it is met by the rights of the Senate ; and it 
follows, as a necessary consequence, that, so far from being bound to re- 
ceive these petitions, so far would a rejection be from violating the right 
of petition, we are left perfectly free to reject or to receive at pleasure, 
and that we cannot be deprived of it without violating the rights of this 
body, secured by the Constitution. 

But, on a question of such magnitude, I feel it to be a duty to remove 
every difficulty ; and, that not a shadow of doubt may remain, I shall 
next proceed to reply to the objections our opponents have made to the 
grounds I have taken. At the head of these it has been urged, again and 
again, that petitioners have a right to be heard, and that not to receive 
petitions is to refuse a hearing. It is to be regretted that, throughout 
this discussion, those opposed to us have dealt in such vague generalities, 
and ventured assertions with so little attention to facts. Why have they 
not informed us, in the present instance, what is meant by the right to 
be heard, and how that right is violated by a refusal to receive 1 Had 
they thought proper to give us this information, it would, at least, have 
greatly facilitated my reply ; but as it is, I am constrained to inquire into 
the different senses in which the assertion may be taken, and then to 
show that in not one o( them is the right of petition in the slightest de- 
gree infringed by a refusal to receive. 

What, then, is meant by the assertion that these petitioners have a right 
to be heard? Is it meant that they have a right to appear in the Senate 
chamber in person to present their petition and to be heard in its defence I 
If this be the meaning, the dullest apprehension must see that the ques- 
tion on receiving has not the slightest bearing on such right. If they 
have the right to be heard personally at our bar, it is not the 24'th rule of 
our proceedings, but the 19th which violates that right. That rule ex- 
pressly provides that a motion to admit any person whatever within the 
doors of the Senate to present a petition shall be out of order, and, of 
course, excludes the petitioners from being heard in person. But it may 
be meant that petitioners have a right to have their petitions presented 
to the Senate and read in their hearing. If this be the meaning, the right 
has been enjoyed in the present instance to the fullest extent. The peti- 
tion was presented by the senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Buchanan) in 
the usual mode, by giving a statement of its contents, and on my call was 
read by the secretary at his table. 

But one more sense can be attached to the assertion. It may be ineant 
that the petitioners have a right to have their petitions discussed by the 
Senate. If this be intended, I will venture to say that there never was an 


assertion more directly in the teeth of facts than that which has been so 
frequently made in the course of this discussion, that, to refuse to receive 
the petition, is to refuse a hearing to the petitioners. Has not this ques- 
tion been before us for months'? Has not the petition been discussed 
day after day, fully and freely, in all its bearings 1 And how, with these 
facts before us, with the debates still ringing in our ears, any senator caa 
rise in his place, and gravely pronounce that to refuse to receive this pe- 
tition is to refuse a hearing to the petitioners, to refuse discussion in the 
broadest sense, is past my comprehension. Our opponents, as if in their 
eagerness to circumscribe the rights of the Senate, and to enlarge those 
of the Abolitionists (for such must be the effect of their course), have 
closed their senses against facts passing before their eyes ; and have en- 
tirely overlooked the nature of the question now before the Senate, and 
which they have been so long discussing. 

The question on receiving the petition not only admits discussion, but 
admits it in the most ample manner ; more so, in fact, than any other, 
except the final question on the rejection of the prayer of the petition, or 
some tantamount question. Whatever may go to show that the petition 
is or is not deserving the action of this body, may be freely urged for 
or against it, as has been done on the present occasion. In this respect 
there is a striking difierence between it and many of the subsequent ques- 
tions which may be raised after reception, and particularly the one made 
by the senator from Tennessee (Mr, Grundy), who now is so strenuous 
an advocate in favour of the right of the petitioners to be heard. He 
spoke with apparent complacency of his course as it respects another of 
these petitions. And what was that course ] He who is now so eager 
for discussion to give a hearing, moved to lay the petition on the table, 
a motion which cuts off all discussion. 

But it may be asked, If the question on receiving petitions admits of 
so wide a scope for discussion, why not receive this petition, and discuss 
it at some subsequent stage 1 Why not receive, in order to reject its 
prayer, as proposed by the senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Buchanan), 
instead of rejecting the petition itself on the question of receiving, as we 
propose 1 What is the difference between the two 1 

I do not intend at this stage to compare, or, rather, to contrast the two 
courses, for they admit of no comparison. My object at present is to 
establish, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that we are not bouiid to re- 
ceive these petitions ; and when that is accomplished, I will then show 
the disastrous consequences which must follow the reception of the peti- 
tion, be the after disposition what it may. In the mean time, it is suffi- 
cient to remark, that it is only on the question of receiving that oppo- 
sition can be made to the peiition itself. On all others the opposition is 
to its prayer. On the decision, then, of the question of receiving depends 
the important question of jurisdiction. To receive is to take jurisdic- 
tion ; to give an implied pledge to investigate and decide on the prayer, 
and to give the petition a place in our archives, and become responsible 
for its safe keeping ; and who votes for receiving this petition on the 
ground on which its reception is placed, votes that Congress is bound to 
take jurisdiction of the question of abolishing slavery both here and in 
the states ; gives an implied pledge to take the subject under considera- 
tion, and orders the petition to be placed among the public records for 
safe keeping. 

But to proceed in reply to the objections of our opponents. It is next 
urged that precedents are against the side we support. I meet this ob- 
jection with a direct denial. From the beginning of the government to 
the commencement of this session, there is not a single precedent that 


justifies the receiving of these petitions on the ground on which their re- 
ception is urged. The real state of the case is, that we are not following, 
but making precedents. For the first time has the principle been assumed 
that we are bound to receive petitions ; that we have no discretion, but 
must take jurisdiction over them, however absurd, frivolous, mischievous, 
or foreign from the purpose for which the government was created. Re- 
ceive these petitions, and you will create a precedent which will hereaf- 
ter establish this monstrous principle. As yet there are none. The case 
relied on by the senator from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy) is in no respect 
analoo-ous. No question, in that case, was made on the reception of the 
petition. The petition slipped in without taking a vote, as is daily done 
where the attention of the Senate is not particularly called to the subject. 
The question on which the discussion took place was on the reference, 
and not on the reception, as in this case ; but what is decisive against the 
precedent, and which I regret the senator (Mr. Grundy) did not state, so 
that it might accompany his remarks, is the fact that the petition was not 
for abolishing slavery. The subject was the African slave-trade ; and the 
petition simply prayed that Congress would inquire whether they might 
not adopt some measure of interdiction prior to 1808, when, by the Con- 
stitution, they would be authorized to suppress that trade. I ask the sec- 
retary to read the prayer of the petition: 

"But we find it indispensably incumbent on us, as a religious body, as- 
suredly believing that both the true temporal interests of nations and 
eternal well-being of individuals depend on doing justly, loving mercy, 
and walking humbly before God, the creator, preserver, and benefactor of 
men, thus to attempt to excite your attention to the affecting subject 
(slave-trade), earnestly desiring that the infinite Father of Spirits may so 
enrich our minds with his love and truth, and so influence your under- 
standing by that pure wisdom which is full of mercy and good fruits, as 
th-at a sincere and an impartial inquiry may take place, whether it be not 
an essential part of the duty of your exalted station to exert upright en- 
deavours, to the full extent of your power, to remove every obstruction 
to public righteousness, which the influence of artifice of particular per- 
sons, governed by the narrow, mistaken views of self-interest, has occa- 
sioned ; and whether, notwithstanding such seeming impediments, it be 
not really within your power to exercise justice and mercy, which, if ad- 
hered to, we cannot doubt abolition must produce the abolition of the 

Now, I ask the senator, Where is the analogy between this and the pres- 
ent petition, the reception of which he so strenuously urges \ He is a 
lawyer of long experience and of distinguished reputation, and I put the 
question to him. On what possible principle can a case so perfectly dis- 
similar justify the vote he intends to give on the present occasion! On 
what possible ground can the vote of Mr. Madison, to refer that petition, 
on which he has so much relied, justify him in receiving this X Does he 
not perceive, in his own example, the danger of forming precedents 1 If 
he may call to his aid the authority of Mr. Madison, in a case so dissim- 
ilar, to justify the reception of this petition, and thereby extend the juris- 
diction of Congress over the question of emancipation, to what purpose, 
hereafter, may not the example of his course on the present occasion be 
perverted % 

It is not my design to censure Mr. Madison's course, but I cannot re- 
frain from expressing my regret that his name is not found associated, on 
that occasion, with the sagacious and firm representatives from the South 
— Smith, Tucker, and Burke of South Carolina, James Jackson of Geor- 
gia, and many others, who, at that early period, foresaw the danger, 


and met it as it ought ever to be met by those who regard the peace and 
security of the slaveholding states. Had he added the weight of his tal- 
ents and authority to theirs, a more healthy tone of sentiment than that 
which now, unfortunately, exists, would this day have been the conse- 

Another case has been cited to justify the vote for reception. I refer 
to the petition from the Quakers in 1805, which the senator from Pennsyl- 
vania (Mr. Buchanan) relies on to sustain him in receiving the present pe- 
tition. What I have said in reply to the precedent cited by the senator 
from Tennessee applies equally to this. Like that, the petition prayed 
legislation, not on abolition of slavery, but the African slave-trade, oyer 
which subject Congress then in a few years would have full jurisdiction 
by the Constitution, and might well have their attention called to it in ad- 
vance. But, though their objects were the same, the manner in which 
the petitions were met was very dissimilar. Instead of being permitted 
to be received silently, like the former, this petition was met at the 
threshold. The question of receiving Avas made, as on the present oc- 
casion, and its rejection sustained by a strong Southern vote, as the jour-- 
iial will show. The secretary will read the journal : 

" Mr. Logan presented a petition, signed Thomas Morris, clerk, on be- 
half of the meeting of the representatives of the people called Quakers, 
in Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, &c., stating that the petitioners, from a 
sense of religious duty, had again come forward to plead the cause of 
their oppressed and degraded fellow-men of the African race. On the 
question, ' Shall this petition be received V it passed in the affirmative — 
yeas 19, nays 9." 

Among those to receive the petition there were but four from the 
slaveholding states, and this on a single petition praying for legislation on 
a subject over which Congress in so short a time would have full author- 
ity. What an example to us on the present occasion ! Can any man 
doubt, from the vote, if the Southern s^iators on that occasion had been 
placed in our present situation— that, had it been their lot, as it is ours, 
to meet that torrent of petitions which is now poured in on Congress, not 
from peaceable Quakers, but ferocious incendiaries — not to suppress the 
African slave-trade, but to abolish slavery, they would with united voice 
have rejected the petition with scorn and indignation! Can any one who 
knew him doubt that one of the senators from the South (the gallant Sum- 
ter), who, on that occasion, voted for receiving the petition, would have 
been among the first to vindicate the interests of those whom he rep- 
resented, had the question at that day been what it is on the present oc- 
casion ? 

W^e are next told that, instead of looking to the Constitution in order 
to ascertain what are the limits to the right of petition, we must push that 
instrument aside, and go back to Magna Charta and the Declaration of 
Rights for its origin and limitation. We live in strange times. It seems 
there are Christians now more orthodox than the Bible, and politicians 
whose standard is higher than the Constitution ; but I object not to tracing 
the right to these ancient and venerated sources; I hold in high estima- 
tion the institutions of our English ancestors. They grew up gradually, 
through many generations, by the incessant and untiring efforts of an in- 
telligent and brave people struggling for centuries against the power of 
the crown. To them we are indebted for nearly all that has been gained 
for liberty in modern times, excepting what we have added. But may I 
not ask how it has happened that our opponents, in going back to these 
sacred instruments, have not thought proper to cite their provisions, or 
to show in what manner our refusal to receive these petitions can violate 


the right of petition as secured by them 1 I feel under no obligation to 
supply the omission — to cite what they have omitted to cite, or to prove, 
from the instruments themselves, that to be no violation of them which 
they have not proved to be a violation. It is unnecessary. The practice 
of Parliament is sufficient for my purpose. It proves conclusively that 
it is no violation of the right, as secured by those instruments, to refuse 
to receive petitions. To establish what this practice is, I ask the secretary 
to read from Hatsel, a Avork of the highest authority, the several para- 
graphs which are marked with a pencil, commencing at page 760, under 
the head of Petitions on Matter of Supply : 

" On the 9th of April, 1694, a petition was tendered to the house re- 
lating to the bill for granting to their majesties several duties upon the 
tonnage of ships ; and the question being put that the petition be re- 
ceived, it passed in the negative." 

" On the 28th of April, 1698, a petition was offered to the house against 
the bill for laying a duty upon inland pit coal ; and the question being 
put that the petition be received, it passed in the negative. See, also, the 
29th and 30th of June, 1698, petitions relating to the duties upon Scotch 
linens, and upon whale fins imported. — Vid. 20th of April, 1698." 

" On the 5th of January, 1703, a petition of the maltsters of Nottingham 
being offered against the bill for continuing the duties on malt, and the 
question being put that the petition be brotight up, it passed in the nega- 

" On the 21st of December, 1706, Resolved, That this house will receive 
no petition for any sum of money relating to public service but Avhat is 
recommended from the crown. Upon the 11th of June, 1713, this is de- 
clared to be a standing order of the house." 

" On the 29th of March, 1707, Resolved, That the house will not pro- 
ceed on any petition, motion, or bill for granting^ any money, or for re- 
leasing or compounding any money owing to tlie crown, but in a com- 
mittee of the whole house ; and this is declared to be a standing order. 
See, also, the 29th of November, 1710." 

" On the 23d of April, 1713, Resolved, That the house wall receive no 
petition for compounding debts to the crown, upon any branch of the rev- 
enue, without a certificate from the proper officer annexed, stating the 
debt, what prosecutions have been made for the recovery thereof, and 
what the petitioner and his security are able to pay." 

"On the 25th of March, 1715, this is declared to be a standing order. 
See the 2d of March, 1735, and the 9th of January, 1752, the proceedings 
upon petitions of this sort." 

" On the 8th of March, 1732, a petition being offered against a bill de- 
pending for securing the trade of the sugar colonies, it was refused to be 
brought up. A motion was then made that a committee be appointed to 
search precedents in relation to the receiving or not receiving petitions 
against the imposing of duties ; and the question being put, it passed in 
the negative." 

Nothing can be more conclusive. Not only are petitions rejected, but 
resolutions are passed refusing to receive entire classes of petitions, and 
that, too, on the subject of imposing taxes — a subject, above all others, in 
relation to which we would suppose the right ought to be held most sa- 
cred, and this within a few years after the Declaration of Rights. With 
these facts before us, what are we to think of the assertion of the senator 
from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy), who pronounced in his place, in the bold- 
est and most unqualified manner, that there was no deliberative body 
which did not act on the principle that it was bound to receive petitions 1 
That a member of his long experience and caution should venture to 

make an assertion so unfounded, is one among the many proofs of tiie 
carelessness, both as to facts and argument, with which this important 
subject has been examined and discussed on that side. 

But it is not necessary to cross the Atlantic, or to go back to remote 
periods, to find precedents for the rejection of petitions. This body, on a 
memorable occasion, and after full deliberation, a short time since reject- 
ed a petition; and among those who voted for the rejection will be found 
the names (of course I exclude my own) of the most able and experienced 
members of the Senate. I refer to the case of resolutions in the nature 
of a remonstrance from the citizens of York, Pennsylvania, approving the 
act of the President in removing the deposites. I ask the secretary to 
read the journals on the occasion : 

" The Vice-president communicated a preamble and a series of resolu- 
tions adopted at a meeting of the citizens of York county, Pennsylvania, 
approving the act of the executive removing the public money from the 
Bank of the United States, and opposed to the renewal of the charter of 
said bank ; which having been read, Mr. Clay objected to the reception. 
And on the question, ' Shall they be received V it was determined in the 
negative — yeas 20, nays 24-. 

" On motion of Mr. Preston, the yeas and nays being desired by one 
fifth of the senators present, those who voted in the affirmative are, 

" Messrs. Benton, Brown, Forsyth, Grundy, Hendricks, Hill, Kane, 
King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Linn, M'Kean, Mangum, Morris, 
Robinson, Shepley, Tallmadge, Tipton, White, Wilkins, Wright. 

" Those who voted in the negative, are, 

" Messrs. Bibb, Black, Calhoun, Clay, Clayton, Ewing, Frelinghuysen, 
Kent, Leigh, Moore, Naudain, Poindexter, Porter, Prentiss, Preston, Rob- 
bins, Silsbee, Smith, Southard, Sprague, Swift, Tomlinson, Waggaman, 

In citing this case il^is not my intention to call in question the con- 
sistency of any member on this floor : it would be unworthy of the occa- 
sion. I doubt not the vote then given was given from a full conviction 
of its correctness, as it will doubtless be in the present case, on whatever 
side it may be found. My object is to show that the principle for which 
I contend, so far from being opposed, is sustained by precedents, here and 
elsewhere, ancient and modern. 

In following as I have those opposed to me, to Magna Charta and the 
Declaration of Rights for the origin and the limits of the right of petition, 
I am not disposed, with them, to set aside the Constitution. I assent to 
the position they assume, that the right of petition existed before the 
Constitution, and that it is not derived from it ; but while I look beyond 
that instrument for the right, I hold the Constitution, on a question as to 
its extent and limits, to be the highest authority. The first amended ar- 
ticle of the Constitution, which provides that Congress shall pass no law 
to prevent the people from peaceably assembling and petitioning for a re- 
dress of grievances, was clearly intended to prescribe the limits within 
which the right might be exercised. It is not pretended that to refuse 
to receive petitions touches in the slightest degree on thgse limits. To 
suppose that the framers of the Constitution — no, not the framers, but 
those jealous patriots who were not satisfied with that instrument as it 
came from the hands of the framers, and who proposed this very provision 
to guard what they considered a sacred right, performed their task so 
bunglingly as to omit any essential guard, would be to do great injustice 
to the memory of those stern and sagacious men ; and yet this is what 
the senator from Tennessee (Mr. Grundy) has ventured to assert. He 
said that no provision was added to guard against the rejection of petitions, 


because the obligation to receive was considered so clear that it was 
deemed unnecessary ; when he ought to have known that, according to 
the standing practice at that time, Parliament was in the constant habit, 
as has been shown, of refusing to receive petitions — a practice which 
could not have been unknown to the authors of the amendment ; and from 
which it may be fairly inferred that, in omitting to provide that petitions 
should be received, it was not intended to comprehend their reception in 
the right of petition. 

I have now, I trust, established, beyond all controversy, that we are not 
bound to receive these petitions, and that if we should reject them we 
would not in the slightest degree infringe the right of petition. It is now 
time to look to the rights of this body, and to see whether, if we should 
receive them, when it is acknowledged that the only reason for receiving 
is that we are bound to do so, we would not establish a principle which 
would trench deeply on the rights of the Senate. I have already shown 
that, where the action of the Senate commences, there also its rights to 
determine how and when it shall act also commences. I have also shown 
that the action of the Senate necessarily begins on the presentation of a 
petition ; that the petition is then before the body ; that the Senate can- 
not proceed to other business without making some disposition of it ; and 
that, by the 24jth rule, the first action after presentation is on a question 
to receive the petition. To extend the right of petition to the question 
bn receiving is to expunge this rule — to abolish this unquestionable right 
of the Senate, and that for the benefit, in this case, of the Abolitionists. 
Their gain would be at the loss of this body. I have not expressed my- 
self too strongly. Give the right of petition the extent contended for, 
decide that we are bound under the Constitution to receive these in- 
cendiary petitions, and the very motion before the Senate would be out 
of order. If the Constitution makes it our duty to receive, we would 
have no discretion left to reject, as the motion presupposes. Our rules 
of proceeding must accord with the Constitution. Thus, in the case of 
Revenue bills, which, by the Constitution, must originate in the other house, 
it would be out of order to introduce them here, and it has, accordingly, 
been so decided. For like reason, if we are bound to receive petitions, 
the present motion would be out of order ; and, if such be your opinion, 
it is your duty, as the presiding officer, to call me to order, and to arrest 
all farther discussion on the question of reception. Let us now turn our 
eyes for a moment to the nature of the right which, I fear, we are about 
to abandon, with the view to ascertain what must be the consequence if 
we should surrender it. 

Of all the rights belonging to a deliberative body, I know of none more 
universal, or indispensable to a proper performance of its functions, than 
the right to determine at its discretion what it shall receive, over what it 
shall extend its jurisdiction, and to what it shall direct its deliberation and 
action. It is the first and universal law of all such bodies, and extends 
not only to petitions, but to reports, to bills, and resolutions, varied only 
in the two latter in the form of the question. It may be compared to the 
function in the animal economy, with which all living creatures are en- 
dowed, of selecting through the instinct of taste what to receive or reject, 
and on which the preservation of their existence depends. Deprive them 
of this function, and the poisonous as well as the wholesome would be 
indifl^erently received into their system. So with deliberative bodies : 
deprive them of the essential and primary right to determine at their 
pleasure what to receive or reject, and they would become the passive 
receptacle, indifferently, of all that is frivolous, absurd, unconstitutional, 
immoral, and impious, as well as what may properly demand their de- 

liberation and action. Establish this monstrous, this impious principle 
(as it would prove to be in practice), and what must be the consequence 1 
To what would we commit ourselves 1 If a petition should be presented 
praying the abolition of the Constitution (which we are bound by our 
oaths to protect), according to this abominable doctrine it must be re- 
ceived. So if it prayed the abolition of the Decalogue, or of the Bible 
itself. I go farther. If the abolition societies should be converted into 
a body of Atheists, and should ask the passage of a law denj'ing the ex- 
istence o( the Almighty Being above us, the Creator of all, accordino- to 
this blasphemous doctrine we would be bound to receive the petition ; to 
take jurisdiction of it. I ask the senators from Tennessee and Pennsyl- 
vania (Mr. Grundy and Mr. Buchanan), Would they vote to receive such 
a petition 1 I wait not an answer. They would instantly reject it with 
loathing. What, then, becomes of the unlimited, unqualified, and universal 
obligation to receive petitions, which they so strenuously maintain, and 
to which they are prepared to sacrifice the constitutional rights of this 
body 1 

I shall now descend from these hypothetical cases to the particular 
question before the Senate. What, then, must be the consequences of 
receiving this petition, on the principle that we are bound to receive it, 
and all similar petitions whenever presented'? I have considered this 
question calmly in all its bearings, and do not hesitate to pronounce that 
to receive would be to yield to the Abolitionists all that the most sanguine 
could for the present hope, and to abandon all the outworks upon which 
we of the South rely for our defence against their attacks here. 

No one can believe that the fanatics, who have flooded this and the 
other house with their petitions, entertain the slightest hope that Con- 
gress would pass a law at this time to abolish slavery in this District. In- 
fatuated as they are, they must see that public opinion at the North is 
not yet prepared for so decisive a step, and that seriously to attempt it 
now would be fatal to their cause. What, then, do they hopel What but 
that Congress should take jurisdiction of the subject of abolishing slavery 
— should throw open to the Abolitionists the halls of legislation, and en- 
able them to establish a permanent position within their walls, from v/hich 
hereafter to carry on their operations against the institutions of the slave- 
holding states % If we receive this petition, all these advantages will be 
realized to them to the fullest extent. Permanent jurisdiction would be 
assumed over the subject of slavery not only in this District, but in the 
states themselves, whenever the Abolitionists might choose to ask Con- 
gress, by sending their petitions here, for the abolition of slavery in the 
states. We would be bound to receive such petitions, and, by receiving, 
Avould be fairly pledged to deliberate and decide on them. Having suc- 
ceeded in this point, a most favourable position would be gained. The 
centre of operations would be transferred from Nassau Hall to the Halls 
of Congress. To this common centre the incendiary publications of the 
Abolitionists would flow, in the form of petitions, to be received and pre- 
served among the public records. Here the subject of abolition would be 
agitated session after session, and from hence the assaults on the prop- 
erty and institutions of the people of the slaveholding states would be dis- 
seminated, in the guise of speeches, over the whole Union. 

Snch would be the advantages yielded to the Abolitionists. In propor- 
tion to their gain would be our loss. What would be yielded to them 
would be taken from us. Our true position — that which is indispensable 
to our defence here — is, that Congress has no legitimate jurisdiction over 
the subject of slavery either here or elsewhere. The reception of this 
petition surrenders this commanding position ; yields the question of ju- 


risaiction, so important to tne cause ot abolition, and so injurious to us j 
compels us to sit in silence to witness the assaults on our character and 
institutions, or to engage in an endless contest in their defence. Such a 
contest is beyond mortal endurance. We must, in the end, be humbled, 
degraded, broken down, and worn out. 

The senators from the slaveholding states, who, most unfortunatelj^, 
have committed themselves to vote for receiving these incendiary peti- 
tions, tell us, that whenever the attempt shall be made to abolish slavery, 
they will join with us to repel it. I doubt not the sincerity of their dec- 
laration. We all have a common interest, and they cannot betray ours 
without betraying, at the same time, their own. But I announce to them 
that they are now called on to redeem their pledge. The attempt is now 
making. The work is going on daily and hourly. The war is wao-ed, not 
only in the most dangerous manner, but in the only manner it'can be 
Avaged. Do they expect that the Abolitionists will resort to arms, and 
commence a crusade to liberate our slaves by force \ Is this what they 
mean when they speak of the attempt to abolish slavery % If so, let me 
tell our friends of the South who differ from me, that the war which the 
Abolitionists wage against us is of a very different character, and far more 
effective. It is a war of religious and political fanaticism, mingled, on 
the part of the leaders, with ambition and the love of notoriety, and waged, 
not against our lives, but our character. The object is to humble °and 
debase us in our own estimation, and that of the world in general ; to blast 
our reputation, while they overthrow our domestic institutions. This is 
the mode in which they are attempting abolition with such ample means 
and untiring industry ; and now is the time for all who are opposed to them 
to meet the attack. How can it be successfully met % This is the im- 
portant question. There is but one way: we must meet the enemy on 
the frontier — on the question of receiving ; we must secure that important 
pass — it is our Thermopylae. The power of resistance, by a universal 
law of nature, is on the exterior. Break through the shell— penetrate 
the crust, and there is no resistance within. In the present contest, the 
question on receiving constitutes our frontier. It is the first, the exterior 
question, that covers and protects all the others. Let it be penetrated 
by receiving this petitioH, and not a point of resistance can be found 
within, as far as this government is concerned. If we cannot maintain 
ourselves there, we cannot on any interior position. Of all the questions 
that can be raised, there is not one on which we can rally on ground more 
tenable for ourselves, or more untenable for our opponents, not excepting 
the ultimate question of abolition in the states. For our right to reject 
this petition is as clear and unquestionable as that Congress has no right 
to abolish slavery in the states. 

Such is the importance of taking our stand immovably on the question 
now before us. Such are the advantages that we of the South would 
sacrifice, and the Abolitionists would gain, were we to surrender that im- 
portant position by receiving this petition. What motives have we for 
making so great a sacrifice % What advantages can we hope to gain that 
would justify us 1 

We are told of the great advantages of a strong majority. I acknowl- 
edge it in a good cause, and on sound principles. I feel, in the present 
instance, how much our cause would be strengthened by a strong and de- 
cided majority for the rejection of these incendiary petitions. If anything 
we could do here could arrest the progress of the Abolitionists, it would 
be such a rejection. But, as advantageous as would be a strong majority 
on sound principles, it is in the same degree dangerous when on tlie op- 
posite — when it rests on improper concessions and the surrender of prin- 

ciples, whicn would be the case at present. Such a majority must, in this 
instance, be purchased by concessions to the Abolitionists, and a surrender, 
on our part, that would demolish all our outworks, give up all our strong 
positions, and open all the passes to the free admission of our enemies. 
It is only on this condition that we can hope to obtain such a majority — 
a majoritj- which must be gathered together from all sides, and entertain- 
ing every variety of opinion. To rally such a majority, the senator from 
Pennsylvania has fallen on the device to receive this petition, and imme- 
diately reject it, without consideration or reflection. To my mind, the 
movement looks like a trick — a mere piece of artifice to juggle and de- 
ceive. I intend no disrespect to the senator. I doubt not his intention 
is good, and believe his feelings are with us ; but I must say that the 
course he has intimated is, in my opinion, the worst possible for the slave- 
holding states. It surrenders all to Abolitionists, and gives nothing in 
turn that would be of the least advantage to us. Let the majority for the 
course he indicates be ever so strong, can the senator hope that it will 
make any impression on the Abolitionists 1 Can he even hope to maintain 
his position of rejecting their petitions Avithout consideration or deliber- 
ation on their merits 1 Does he not see that, in assuming jurisdiction by 
receiving their petitions, he gives an implied pledge to inquire, to delib- 
erate, and decide on them 1 Experience will teach him that we must 
either refuse to receive, or go through. I entirely concur with the sen- 
ator from Vermont (Mr. Prentiss) on that point. There is no middle 
ground that is tenable, and, least cf ill, that proposed to be occupied by 
the senator from Per" ylvania, and those who act with him. In the mean 
time, the courr^j ::i: proposes is calculated to lull the people of the slave- 
holding states into a false security, under the delusive impression which 
it is calculated to make, that there is more strength here against the Abo- 
litionists than really does exist. 

But we are told that the right of petition is popular in the North, and 
that to make an issue, however true, which might bring it in question, 
tvould weaken our friends here, and strengthen the Abolitionists. I have 
no doubt of the kind feelings of our brethren from the North on this 
floor; but I clearly see that, while we have their feelings in our favour, 
their constituents, right or wrong, will have their votes, however we may 
be affected. But I assure our friends that we would not do anything 
willingly which would weaken them at home; and if we could be assured 
that, by yielding to their wishes the right of receiving petitions, they 
would be able to arrest permanently the progress of the Abolitionists, 
we then might be induced to yield ; but nothing short of the certainty of 
permanent security can induce us to yield an inch. If to maintain our 
rights must increase the Abolitionists, be it so. I would at no period make 
the least sacrifice of principle for any temporary advantage, and much 
less at the present. If there must be an issue, now is our time. We 
never can be more united or better prepared for the struggle ; and I, for 
one, would much rather meet the danger now than to turn it over to those 
who are to come after us. 

But, putting these views aside, it does seem to me, taking a general 
view of the subject, that the course intimated by the senator from Penn- 
sylvania is radically wrong, and must end in disappointment. The at- 
tempt to unite all must, as it usually does, terminate in division and dis- 
traction. It will divide the South on the question of receiving, and the 
North on that of rejecting, with a mutual weakening of both. I already 
see indications of division among Northern gentlemen on this floor, even 
in this stage of the question. A division among them would give a great 
impulse to the cause of abolition. Whatever position the parties may 

JMiiiiiiiMMiliiiiBnnmTMininTimiii \\\m ■■m 

take, in the event of such division, one or the other would be considered 
more or less favourable to the abolition cause, which could not fail to run 
it into the political struggles of the two great parties of the North. With 
these views, I hold that the only possible hope of arresting the progress 
of the Abolitionists in that quarter is to keep the two great parties there 
united against them, which would be impossible if they divide here. The 
course intimated by the senator from Pennsylvania will effect a division 
here, and, instead of uniting the North, and thereby arresting the progress 
of the Abolitionists, as he anticipates, will end in division and distraction, 
and in giving thereby a more powerful impulse to their cause. I must 
say, before I close my remarks in this connexion, that the members from 
the North, it seems to me, are not duly sensible of the deep interest 
which ihey have in this question, not only as affecting the Union, but as 
it relates immediately and directly to their particular section. As great 
as may be our interests, theirs are not less. If the tidecontinues to roll 
on its turbid waves of folly and fanaticism, it must, in the end, prostrate 
in the North all the institutions that uphold their peace and prosperity, 
and ultimately overwhelm all that is eminent, morally and intellectually. 

I have now concluded what I intended to say on the question immedi- 
ately before the Senate. If I have spoken earnestly, it is because I feel 
the subject to be one of the deepest interest. We are about to take the 
first step ; that must control all our subsequent movements. If it should 
be such as I fear it will, if we receive this petition, and thereby establish 
the principle that we are obliged to receive all such petitions ; if we shall 
determine to take permanent jurisdiction over the subject of abolition, 
whenever and in whatever ^ "nner the Abolitionists may ask, either here 
or in the states, I fear that the consequen-ctyn will be ultimately disastrous. 
Such a course would destroy the confidence -. - the people of the slave- 
holding states in this government. We love and cherish the Union : we 
remember with the kindest feelings our common origin, with pride our 
common achievements, and fondly anticipate the common greatness and 
glory that seem to await us; but origin, achievements, and anticipation 
of coming greatness are to us as nothing compared to this question. It 
is to us a vital question. It involves not only our liberty, but, what is 
greater (if to freemen anything can be), existence itself. The relation 
which now exists between the two races in the slaveholding states has 
existed for two centuries. It has grown with our growth, and strength- 
ened with our strength. It has entered into and modified all our institu- 
tions, civil and political. None other can be substituted. We will not, 
cannot permit it to be destroyed. If we were base enough to do so, we 
would be traitors to our section, to ourselves, our families, and to poster- 
ity. It is our anxious desire to protect and preserve this relation by the 
joint action of this government and the confederated states of the Union ; 
but if, instead of closing the door — if, instead of denying all jurisdiction 
and all interference in this question, the doors of Congress are to be 
thrown open ; and if we are to be exposed here, in the heart of the Union, 
to an endless attack on our rights, our character, and our institutions; if 
the other states are to stand and look on without attempting to suppress 
these attacks, originating Avithin their borders ; and, finally, if this is to 
be our fixed and permanent condition as members of this confederacy, 
we will then be compelled to turn our eyes on ourselves. Come what 
will, should it cost every drop of blood and every cent of property, we 
must defend ourselves ; and if compelled, we would stand justified by all 
laws, human and divine. 

If I feel alarm, it is not for ourselves, but the Union and the institu- 
tions of the country, to which I have ever been devotedly attached, how- 

D D 

ever calumniated and slandered. Few have made greater sacrifices to 
maintain them, and none is more anxious to perpetuate them to the latest 
generation ; but they can and ought to be perpetuated only on the con- 
dition that they fulfil the great objects for which they were created — the 
liberty and protection of these states. 

As for ourselves, I feel no apprehension. I know to the fullest extent 
the niairnitude of the danger that surrounds us, I am not disposed to under- 
estimat^e it. My colleague has painted it truly. But, as great as is the 
danger, we have nothing to fear if true to ourselves. We have many and 
great resources ', a numerous, intelligent, and brave population ; great and 
valuable staples ; ample fiscal means ; unity of feeling and interest, and 
an entire exemption from those dangers originating in a conflict between 
labour and capital, which at this time threatens so much danger to con- 
stitutional governments. To these may be added, that we would act un- 
der an imperious necessity. There would be to us but one alternative — 
to triumph or perish as a people. We would stand alone, compelled to 
defend life, character, and institutions. A necessity so stern and impe- 
rious would develop to the full all the great qualities of our nature, men- 
tal and moral, requisite for defence — intelligence, fortitude, courage, and 
patriotism ; and these, with our ample means, and our admirable mate- 
rials for the construction of durable free states, would ensure security, 
liberty, and renown. 

With these impressions, I ask neither sympathy nor compassion for 
the slaveholding states. We can take care of ourselves. It is not we, 
but the Union which is in danger. It is that which demands our care — 
demands that the agitation of this question shall cease here — that you 
shall refuse to receive these petitions, and decline all jurisdiction over 
the subject of abolition in every form and shape. It is only on these 
terms that the Union can be safe. We cannot remain here in an endless 
struggle in defence of our character, our property, and institutions. 

I shall now, in conclusion, make a single remark as to the course I shall 
feel myself compelled to pursue, should the Senate, by receiving this pe- 
tition, determine to entertain jurisdiction over the question of abolition. 
Thinking as I do, I can perform no act that would countenance so dan- 
gerous an assumption ; and, as a participation in the subsequent proceed- 
ings on this petition, should it unfortunately be received, might be so 
construed, in that event I shall feel myself constrained to decline such 
participation, and to leave the responsibility wholly on those who may 
assume it. 



I AM aware, said Mr. Calhoun, how offensive it is to speak of one's self; but 
as the senator from Georgia on my right (Mr. King) has thought proper to im- 
pute to me improper motives, I feel myself compelled, in self-defence, to state 
the reasons which have governed my course in reference to the subject now 
under consideration. The senator is greatly mistaken in supposing that I was 
governed by hostility to General Jackson. So far is that from being the fact, 
that I came here at the commencement of the session with fixed and settled 
principles on the subject under discussion, and which, in pursuing the course 
that the senator condemns, I have but attempted to carry into effect. 


As soon as the subject of abolition began to agitate the South last summer, 
in consequence of the transmission of incendiary publications through the mail, 
I saw at once that it would force itself on the notice of Congress at the present 
session, and that it involved questions of great delicacy and difficulty. I im- 
mediately turned my attention, in consequence, to the subject, and, after due re- 
flection, arrived at the conclusion that Congress could exercise no direct power 
over it ; and that, if it acted at all, the only mode in which it could act, consist- 
ently with the Constitution and the rights and safety of the slaveholding states, 
would be in the manner proposed by this bill. I also saw that there was no 
inconsiderable danger in the excited state of the feelings of the South ; that 
the power, however dangerous and unconstitutional, might be thoughtlessly 
yielded to Congress, knowing full well how apt the weak and timid are, in a 
state of excitement and alarm, to seek temporary protection in any quarter, re- 
gardless of after-consequences, and how ready the artful and designing ever are 
to seize on such occasions to extend and perpetuate their power. 

With these impressions I arrived here at the beginning of the session. The 
President's message was not calculated to remove my apprehensions. He as- 
sumed for Congress direct power over the subject, and that on the broadest, 
most unqualified, and dangerous principles. Knowing the influence of his name, 
by reason of his great patronage and the rigid discipline of party, with a large 
portion of the country, who have scarcely any other standard of Constitution, 
politics, and morals, I saw the full extent of the danger of having these danger- 
ous principles reduced to practice, and I determined at once to use CA'ery effort 
to prevent it. The senator from Georgia will, of course, understand that I do 
not include him in this subservient portion of his party. So far from it, I have 
always considered him as one of the most independent. It has been our for- 
tune to concur in opinion in relation to most of the important measures which 
have been agitated since he became a member of this body, two years ago, at 
the commencement of the session during which the deposite question was agi- 
tated. On that important question, if I mistake not, the senator and myself con- 
curred in opinion, at least as to its inexpediency, and the dangerous consequen- 
ces to which it would probably lead. If my memory serves me, we also agreed 
in opinion on the connected subject of the currency, which Avas then incident- 
ally discussed. We agreed, too, on the question of raising the value of gold 
to its present standard, and in opposition to the bill for the distribution of the 
proceeds of public land, introduced by the senator from Kentucky (Mr. Clay). 
In recurring to the events of that interesting session, I can remember but one 
important subject on which we disagreed, and that was the President's protest. 
Passing to the next, I find the same concurrence of opinion on most of the im- 
portant subjects of the session. We agreed on the question of executive pat- 
ronage, on the propriety of amending the Constitution for a temporary distribu- 
tion of the surplus revenue, on the subject of regulating the deposites, and in 
support of the bill for restricting the power of the executive in making removals 
from office. We also agreed in the propriety of establishing branch mints in 
the South and West — a subject not a little contested at the time. 

Even at the present session we have not been so unfortunate as to disagree 
entirely. We have, it is true, on the question of receiving abolition petitions, 
which I regret, as I must consider their reception, on the principle on which they 
were received, as a surrender of the whole ground to the Abolitionists, as far as 
this government is concerned. It is also true that we disagreed, in part, in ref- 
erence to the present subject. The senator has divided, in relation to it, be- 
tween myself and General Jackson. He has given his speech in support of 
his message, and announced his intention of giving his vote in favour of my bill. 
I certainly have no right to complain of this division. I had rather have his 
vote than his speech. The one will stand forever on the records of the Senate 

(unless expunged) in favour of the bill, and the important principles on which 
it rests, while the other is destined, at no distant day, to oblivion. 

I now put to the senator from Georgia two short questions. In the numerous 
and important instances in which we have agreed, I must haA-e been either righi 
or wrono-. If rif^ht, how could he be so uncharitable as to attribute my course 
to the low and unworthy motive of inveterate hostility to General Jackson ? 
But if wrong, in what condition does his charge against me place himself, who 
has concurred with me in all these measures ? (Here Mr. King disclaimed 
the imputation of improper motives to Mr. C.) I am glad to hear the gentle- 
man's disclaimer, said Mr. C., but I certainly understood him as asserting that, 
such was my hostility to General Jackson, that his support of a measure was 
sufficient to ensure my opposition ; and this he imdertook to illustrate by an 
anecdote borrowed from O'Connell and the pig, which, I must tell the senator, 
was much better suited to the character of the Irish mob to which it was ori- 
ginally addressed, than to the dignity of the Senate, where he has repeated it. 
But to return from this long digression. I saw, as I have remarked, that 
there was reason to apprehend that the principles embraced in the message 
might be reduced to practice— principles which I believe to be dangerous to 
the^ South, and subversive of the liberty of the press. The report fully states 
what those principles are, but it may not be useless to refer to them briefly on 
the present occasion. 

The message assumed for Congress the right of determining what publica- 
tions are incendiary and calculated to excite the slaves to insurrection, and to 
prohibit the transmission of such publications through the mail ; and, of course, 
it also assumes the right of deciding what are not incendiary, and of enforcing 
the transmission of such through the mail. But the senator from Georgia de- 
nies this inference, and treats it as a monstrous absurdity. I had (said Mr. C.) 
considered it so nearly intuitive, that I had not supposed it necessary in the re- 
port to add anything in illustration of its truth ; but as it has been contested by 
the senator, I will add, in illustration, a single remark. 

The senator will not deny that the right of determining what papers are in- 
cendiaiy, and of preventing their circulation, implies that Congress has jurisdic- 
tion over the subject ; that is, of discriminating as to what papers ought or ought 
not to be transmitted by the mail. Nor will he deny that Congress has a right, 
when acting within its acknowledged jurisdiction, to enforce the execution of 
its acts ; and yet the admission of these unquestionable truths admits the con- 
sequence asserted by the report, and so sneered at by the senator. But, lest he 
should controvert so plain a deduction, to cut the matter short, I shall propound 
a plain question to him. He believes that Congress has the right to say what 
papers are incendiary, and to prohibit their circulation. Now, I ask him, if he 
does not also believe that it has the right to enforce the circulation of such as 
it may determine not to be incendiary, even against a law of Georgia that might 
prohibit their circulation? If the senator should answer in the affirmative, I 
then would prove by his admission the truth of the inference for which I con- 
tend, and which he has pronounced to be so absurd : but if he should answer in 
the negative, and deny that Congress can enforce the circulation againt the law 
of the "state, I must tell him he would place himself in the neighbourhood of 
nullification. He would, in fact, go beyond. The denial would assume the 
xieht of nullifying what the senator himself must, with his views, consider a 
constitutional act, when nullification only assumes the right of a state to nullify 
an unconstitutional act. 

But the principle of the message goes still farther. It assumes for Congress 
jurisdiction over the liberty of the press. The framers of the Constitution 
(or, rather, those jealous patriots who refused to consent to its adoption without 
amendments to guard against the abuse of power) have, by the first amended 
article, provided that Congress shall pass no law abridging the liberty of the 


press, with the view of placing the press beyond the control of congressional 
legislation. But this cautious foresight would prove in vain, if we should con- 
cede to Congress the power which the President assumes of discriminating, in 
reference to character, what publications shall not be transmitted by the mail. 
It would place in the hands of the General Government an instrument more 
potent to control the freedom of the press than the sedition law itself, as is fully 
established in the report. 

Thus regarding the message, the question which presented itself on its first 
perusal was, How to prevent powers so dangerous and unconstitutional from 
being carried into practice 1 To permit the portion of the message relating to 
the subject under consideration to take its regular course, and be referred to the 
Committee on Postoffices and Post-roads, would, I saw, be the most certain 
way to defeat what I had in view. I could not doubt, from the composition of 
the committee, that the report would coincide with the message, and that it 
would be drawn up with all that tact, ingenuity, and address, for which the 
chairman of the committee and the head of the postoffice department are not a 
little distinguished. With this impression, I could not but apprehend that the 
authority of the President, backed by such a report, would go far to rivet in the 
public mind the dangerous principles which it was my design to defeat, and 
which could only be effected by referring the portion of the message in question 
to a select committee, by which the subject might be thoroughly investigated, 
and the result presented in a report. With this view I moved the committee, 
and the bill and report which the senator has attacked so violently are the 

These are the reasons which governed me in the course I took, and not the 
base and unworthy motive of hostility to General Jackson. I appeal with con- 
fidence to my life to prove that neither hostility nor attachment to any man or 
any party can influence me in the discharge of my public duties ; but were I 
capable of being influenced by such motives, I must tell the senator from Geor- 
gia, that I have not such regard for the opinion of General Jackson as to permit 
his course to influence me in the slightest degree, either for or against any 

Having now assigned the motives which governed me, it is with satisfaction 
I add that I have a fair prospect of success. So entirely are the principles of 
the message abandoned, that not a friend of the President has ventured, and I 
hazard nothing in saying, will venture, to assert them practically, whatever they 
may venture to do in argument. They well know now that, since the subject 
has been investigated, a bill to carry into effect the recommendation of the mes- 
sage would receive no support even from the ranks of the administration, de- 
voted as they are to their chieftain. 

The senator from Georgia made other objections to the report besides those 
which I have thus incidentally noticed, to which I do not deem it necessary to 
reply. I am content with his vote, and cheerfully leave the report and his 
speech to abide their fate, with a brief notice of a single objection. 

The senator charges me with what he considers a strange and unaccountable 
contradiction. He says that the freedom of the press and the right of petition 
are both secured by the same article of the Constitution, and both stand on the 
same principle ; yet I, who decidedly opposed the receiving of abolition peti- 
tions, now as decidedly support the liberty of the press. To make out the con- 
tradiction, he assumes that the Constitution places the right of petitioners to 
have their petitions received and the liberty of the press on the same ground. 
I do not deem it necessary to show that in this he is entirely mistaken, and 
that my course on both occasions is perfectly consistent. I take the senator at 
his word, and put to him a question for his decision. If, in opposing the receiv- 
ing of the abolition petitions, and advocating the freedom of the press, I have 
involved myself in a palpable contradiction, how can he escape a similar charge, 

when his course was the reverse of mine on both occasions ? Does he not see 
that, if mine be contradictory, as he supposes, his loo must necessarily be so ? 
But the senator forgets his own argument, of which I must remind him, in order 
to reUeve him from the awkward dilemma in which he has placed himself in 
his eatxerness to fix on me the charge of contradiction. He seems not to recol- 
lect that, in his speech on receiving the abolition petitions, he was compelled 
to abandon the Constitution, and to place the right, not on that instrument, as he 
would now have us believe, but expressly on the ground that the right existed 
anterior to the Constitution, and that we must look for its limits, not to the Con- 
stitution, but to the Magna Charta and the Declaration of Rights. 

Having now concluded what I intended to say in reply to the senator from 
Georgia, I now turn to the objections of the senator from Massachusetts (Mr. 
Davis), which were directed, not against the report, but the bill itself. The 
senator confined his objections to the principles of the bill, which he pronoun- 
ces dangerous and unconstitutional. It is my wish to meet his objections fully, 
fairly, and directly. For this purpose, it will be necessary to have an accurate 
and clear conception of the principles of the bill, as it is impossible, without it, 
to estimate correctly the force either of the objections or the reply. I am thus 
constrained to restate what the principles are, at the hazard of being considered 
somewhat tedious. 

The first and leading principle is, that the subject of slavery is under the 
sole and exclusive control of the states where the institution exists. It belongs 
to them to determine what may endanger its existence, and when and how it 
may be defended. In the exercise of this right, they may prohibit the intro- 
duction or circulation of any paper or publication which may, in their opinion, 
disturb or endanger the institution. Thus far all are agreed. To this extent 
no one has questioned the right of the states ; not even the senator from Mas- 
sachusetts, in his numerous objections to the bill. 

The next and remaining principle of the bill is intimately connected with the 
preceding, and, in fact, springs directly from it. It assumes that it is the duty 
of the General Government, in the exercise of its delegated rights, to respect 
the laws which the slaveholding states may pass in protection of its institutions ; 
or, to express it differently, it is its duty to pass such laws as may be necessa- 
ry to make it obligatory on its officers and agents to abstain from violating the 
laws of the states, and to co-operate, as far as it may consistently be done, irj 
their execution. It is against this principle that the objections of the senator 
from Massachusetts have been directed, and to which I now proceed to reply. 

His first objection is, that the principle is new ; by which I understand him 
to mean, that it never has, heretofore, been acted on by the government. The 
objection presents two questions : Is it true in point of fact ? and if so, what 
weight or force properly belongs to it ? If I am not greatly mistaken, it will 
be found wanting in both particulars ; and that, so far from being new, it has 
been frequently acted on ; and that if it were new, the fact would have little or 
no force. 

If our government had been in operation for centuries, and had been exposed 
to the various changes and trials to which political institutions, in a long-pro- 
tracted existence, are exposed in the vecissitudes of events, the objection, under 
such circumstances, that a principle has never been acted upon, if not decisive, 
would be exceedingly strong ; but when made in reference to our government, 
which has been in operation for less than half a century, and which is so com- 
plex and novel in its structure, it is very feeble. We all know that new prin- 
ciples are daily developing themselves under our system, with the changing 
condition of the country, and, doubtless, will long continue so to do in the new 
and trying scenes through which we are destined to pass. It may, I admit, be 
good reason even with us for caution — for thorough and careful investigation, 
if a principle proposed to be acted upon be new ; for I have long since been 


n-augiu uy eAptjiiKiiue, uiu.i wxiaievbr is umneu IS 10 oe receiveu witu caution m 
politics, however plausible. But to go farther in this early stage of our politi- 
C9l existence, would be to deprive ourselves of means that might be indispensa- 
ble to meet future dangers and ditficulties. 

But I take higher grounds in reply to the objection. I deny its truth in point 
of fact, and assert that the principle is not new. The report refers to two in- 
stances in which it has been acted on, and to which, for the present, I shall con- 
jfine myself: one in reference to the quarantine laws of the states, and the oth- 
er more directly connected with the subject of this bill. I propose to make a 
few remarks in reference to both : beginning with the former, with the view of 
showing that the principle in both cases is strictly analogous, or, rather, identi- 
cal with the present. 

The health of the state, like that of the subject of slavery, belongs exclusively 
to the states. It is reserved, and not delegated ; and, of course, each state has 
a right to judge for itself what may endanger the health of its citizens, what 
measures are necessary to prevent it, and when and how such measures are to 
be carried into effect. Among the causes which may endanger the health of a 
state, is the introduction of infectious or contagious diseases through the medi- 
um of commerce. The vessel returning with a rich cargo, in exchan"-e for the 
products of a state, may also come freighted with the seeds of disease and death. 
To guard against this danger, the states at a very early period adopted quaran- 
tine or health laws. These laws, it is obvious, must necessarily interfere with 
the power of Congress to regulate commerce — a power as expressly given as 
that to regulate the mail, and, as far as the present question is concerned, every 
way analogous ; and acting, accordingly, on the principles of this bill. Congress, 
as far back as the year '96, passed an act making it the duty of its civil and mil- 
itary officers to abstain from the violation of the health laws of the states, and 
to co-operate in their execution. This act was modified and repealed by that 
of '99, which has since remained unchanged on the statute-book. 

But the other precedent referred to in the report is still more direct and im- 
portant. That case, like the present, involved the right of the slaveholding 
states to adopt such measures as they may think proper to prevent their domes- 
tic institutions from being disturbed or endangered. They may be endangered, 
not only by introducing and circulating inflammatory publications calculated to 
excite insurrection, but also by the introduction of free people of colour from 
abroad, who may come as emissaries, or with opinions and sentiments hostile 
to the peace and security of those states. The right of a state to pass laws to 
prevent danger from publications is not more clear than the right to pass those 
which may be necessary to guard against this danger. The act of 1803, to 
which the report refers as a precedent, recognises this right to the fullest ex- 
tent. It was intended to sustain the laws of the states against the introduction 
of free people of colour from the West India Islands. The senator from Mas- 
sachusetts, in his remarks upon this precedent, supposes the law to have been 
passed under the power given to Congress by the Constitution to suppress the 
slave-trade. I have turned to the journals in order to ascertain the facts, and 
find that the senator is entirely mistaken. The law was passed on a memorial 
of the citizens of Wilmington, North Carolina, and originated in the following 
facts : '^ 

After the successful rebellion of the slaves of St. Domingo, and the expul- 
sion of the French power, the government of the other French West India 
Islands, in order to guard against the danger from the example of St. Domingo,, 
adopted rigid measures to expel and send out their free blacks. In 1803, a brig, 
having on board five persons of that description who were driven from Guada- 
loupe, arrived at Wilmington. The alarm which this caused gave birth to the 
memorial, and the memorial to the act. 

1 learn from the journals, that the subject was fully investigated and discuss- 

cd in both houses, and that it passed by a very large majority. The first sec- 
tion of the bill prevents the introduction of any negro, mulatto, or mustee, into 
any state, by the laws of which they are prevented from being introduced, ex- 
cept persons of the description from beyond the Cape of Good Hope, or register- 
ed seamen, or natives of the United States. The second section prohibits the 
entry of vessels having such persons on board, and subjects the vessels to sei- 
zure and forfeiture for landing, or attempting to land them contrary to the laws 
of the states ; and the third and last section makes it the duty of the officers of 
the General Government to co-operate with the states in the execution of their 
laws against their introduction. 1 consider this precedent to be one of vast im- 
portance to the slaveholding states. It not only recognises the right of those 
states to pass such laws as they may deem necessary to protect themselves 
against the slave population, and the duty of the General Government to respect 
those laws, but also the very important right, that the states have the authority 
to exclude the introduction of such persons as may be dangerous to their insti- 
tutions : a principle of great extent and importance, and applicable, to other 
states as well as slaveholding, and to other persons as well as blacks, and 
which may hereafter occupy a prominent place in the history of our legislation. 
Having now, I trust, fully and successfully replied to the first objection of the 
senator from Massachusetts, by showing that it is not true in fact, and if it 
were, that it would have had little or no force, I shall now proceed to reply to 
the second objection, which assumes that the principles for which I contend 
would, if admitted, transfer the power over the mail from the General Govern- 
ment to the states. 

If the objection be well founded, it must prove fatal to the bill. The power 
over the mail is, beyond all doubt, a delegated power ; and whatever would di- 
vest the government of this power, and transfer it to the states, would certainly 
be a violation of the Constitution. But would the principle, if acted on, transfer 
the power ? If admitted to its full extent, its only effect would be to make it 
the duty of Congress, in the exercise of its power over the mail, to abstain 
from violating the laws of the state in protection of their slave property, and to 
co-operate, where it could with propriety, in their execution. Its utmost effect 
"would then be a modification, and not a transfer or destruction of the power ; 
and surely the senator will not contend that to modify a right amounts either to 
its transfer or annihilation. He cannot forget that all rights are subject to 
modifications, and all, from the highest to the lowest, are held under one uni- 
versal condition — that their possessors should so use them as not to injure oth- 
ers. Nor can he contend that the power of the General Government over the 
mail is without modification or limitation. He himself admits that it is subject 
to a very important modification, when he concedes that the government cannot 
discriminate in reference to the character of the publications to be transmitted 
by the mail, without violating the first amended article of the Constitution, 
which prohibits Congress from passing laws abridging the liberty of the press. 
Other modifications of the right might be shown to exist, not less clear, nor of 
much less importance. It might be easily shown, for instance, that the power over 
the mail is limited to the transmission of intelligence, and that Congress cannot, 
consistently with the nature and the object of the power, extend it to the ordinary 
objects of transportation without a manifest violation of the Constitution, and the 
assumption of a principle which would give the government control over the 
general transportation of the country, both by land and water. But if it be 
subject to these modifications, without either annihilating or transferring the 
power, why should the modification for which I contend, and which I shall 
show hereafter to rest upon unquestionable principles, have such effect ? That 
it would not, in fact, might be shown, if other proof were necessary, by a refer- 
ence to the practical operation of the principle in the two instances already re- 
ferred to. In both, the principle which I contend for in relation to the mail 

has long been in operation in reference to commerce, witnout the transfer ot 
the power of Congress to regulate commerce to the states, which the senator 
contends would be its effect if applied to the mail. So far otherwise, so little 
has it affected the power of Congress to regulate the commerce of the countr}', 
that few persons, comparatively, are aware that the principle has been recog- 
nised and acted on by the General Government. 

I come next (said .Mr. Calhoun) to what the senator seemed to rely upon as 
his main objection. He stated that the principles asserted in the report were 
contradicted by the bUl, and that the latter undertakes to do indirectly what the 
former asserts that the General Government cannot do at all. 

Admit (said Mr. C.) the objection to be true in fact, and what does it prove, 
but that the author of the report is a bad logician, and that there is error some- 
where, but without proving that it is in the bill, and that it ought, therefore, to 
be rejected, as the senator contends. If there be error, it may be in the report 
instead of the bill, and till the senator can fix it on the latter, he cannot avail 
himself of the objection. But does the contradiction which he alleges exist ! 
Let us turti to the principles asserted in the report, and compare them with 
those of the bill, in order to determine this point. 

What, then, are the principles which the report maintains ? It asserts that 
Congress has no right to determine what papers are incendiar}-, and calculated 
to excite insurrection, and, as such, to prohibit their circulation, but, on the con- 
trary, that it belongs to the states to determine on the character and tendency 
of such publications, and to adopt such measures as they may think proper to 
prevent their introduction or circulation. Does the bill deny any of these prin- 
ciples ? Does it not assume them all ? Is it not drawn up on the supposition 
that the General Government have none of the powers denied by the report, and 
that the states possess all for which it contends ? How, then, can it be said 
that the bill contradicts the report ! But the difficulty, it seems, is, that the 
General Government would do through the states, under the pro^"isions of the 
bill, what the report denies that it can do directly ; and this, according to the 
senator from Georgia, is so manifest and palpable a contradiction, that he can 
find no explanation for my conduct but an inveterate hostility to General Jack- 
son, which he is pleased to attribute to me. 

I have, I trust, successfully repelled already the imputation, and it now re- 
mains to show that the gross and palpable errors which the senator perceives 
exist only in his own imagination, and that, instead of the cause he supposes, it 
orit^inates, on his part, in a dangerous and fundamental misconception of the na- 
ture of our political system — particularly of the relation between the states and 
the General Government. "Were the states the agents of the General Govern- 
ment, as the objection clearly presupposes, then what he says would be true, 
and the government, in recognising the law of the states, would adopt the acts 
of its agents. But the fact is far otherwise. The General Governjneut and 
the governments of the states are distinct and independent departments in our 
complex political system. The states, in passing laws in protection of their 
domestic institutions, act in a sphere as independent as the General Govern- 
ment passing laws in regulation of the mail ; and the latter, in abstaining from 
%-iolatinor the laws of the states, as pro\'ided for in the bill, so far from making 
the states its agents, but recognises the right of the states, and performs on its 
part a conesponding duty. Rights and duties are in their nature reciprocal. 
The existence of one presupposes that of the other, and the performance of the 
duty, so far from denying the right, distinctly recognises its existence. The 
senator, for example, next to me (Judge White) has the unquestionable right 
to the occupation of his chair, and I am, of course, in duty bound to abstain 
from violating that right ; but would it not be absurd to say, that in performing 
that duty by abstaining from violating his right, I assume the right of occupa- 
tion ? Again : suppose the verv quiet and peaceable senator from Maine (Six. 


Shepley), who is his next neighbour on the other side, should undertake to oust 
the senator from Tennessee, would it not be a strange doctrine to contend that, 
if I were to co-operate with the senator from Tennessee in maintaining pos- 
session of his chair, it would be an assumption on my part of a right to the 
chair ? And yet this is the identical principle which the senator from Georgia 
assumed, in charging a manifest and palpable contradiction between the bill and 
the report. 

But to proceed with the objections of the senator from Massachusetts. He 
asserts, and asserts truly, that rights and duties are reciprocal ; and that, if it 
be the duty of the General Government to respect the laws of the state, it is in 
like manner the duty of the states to respect those of the General Government. 
The practice of both have been in conformity to the principle. I have already 
cited instances of the General Government respecting the laws of the states, 
and many might be shown of the states respecting those of the General Govern- 

But the senator from Massachusetts affirms that the laws of the General Gov- 
ernment regulating the mail, and those of the government of the states, prohibit- 
ing the introduction and circulation of incendiary publications, may come into 
conflict, and that, in such event, the latter must yield to the former ; and he rests 
this assertion on the ground that the power of the General Government is ex- 
pressly delegated by the Constitution. I regard the argument as wholly incon- 
clusive. Why should the mere fact that a power is expressly delegated give 
it paramount control over the reserved powers ? What possible superiority can 
the mere fact of delegation give, uidess, indeed, it be supposed to render the 
right more clear, and, of course, less questionable ? Now I deny that it has, in 
this instance, any such superiority. Though the power of the General Govern- 
ment over the mail is delegated, it is not more clear and unquestionable than 
the rights of the states over the subject of slavery — a right which neither has, 
nor can be denied. In fact, I might take higher grounds, if higher grounds 
were possible, by showing that the rights of the states are as expressly reserved 
as those of the General Government are delegated ; for, in order to place the 
reserved rights beyond controversy, the tenth amended article of the Constitu- 
tion expressly provides, that all powers not delegated to the United States, nor 
prohibited to the states, are reserved to the states or the people ; and, as the 
subject of slavery is acknowledged by all not to be delegated, it may be fairly 
considered as expressly reserved under this provision of the Constitution. 

But, while I deny his conclusion, I agree with the senator that the laws of 
the states and General Government may come into conflict, and that, if they do, 
one or the other must yield ; the question is. Which ought to yield ? The ques- 
tion is one of great importance. It involves the whole merit of the controversy, 
and I must entreat the Senate to give me an attentive hearing while I state my 
views in relation to it. 

In order to determine satisfactorily which ought to yield, it becomes neces- 
sary to have a clear and full understanding of the point of difliculty ; and for 
this purpose it is necessary to make a few preliminary remarks. 

Properly considered, the reserved and delegated powers can never come into 
conflict. The fact that a power is delegated is conclusive that it is not re- 
served ; and that it is not delegated, that it is reserved, unless, indeed, it be pro- 
hibited to the states. There is but a single exception : the case of powers of 
such nature that they be exercised concurringly by the state and General Gov- 
ernment — such as the power of laying taxes, which, though delegated, may also 
be exercised by the states. In illustration of the truth of the position I have 
laid down, I might refer to the case now under consideration. Regarded in 
the abstract, there is not the slightest conflict between the power delegated by 
the Constitution to the General Government to establish postofiices and post- 
roads, and that reserved to the states over the subject of slavery. How, then, 


can there be conflict ? It occurs, not between the powers themselves, but the 
laws respectively passed to carry them into eflect. The laws of the state, pro- 
hibiting the introduction or circulation of incendiary publications, may come in 
conflict with the laws of the General Government in relation to the mail ; and 
the question to be determined is. Which, in the event, ought to give way ? 

I will not pretend to enter into a full and systematic investigation of this high- 
ly important question, which involves, as I have said, the merits of the whole 
controversy. I do not deem it necessary. I propose to lay down a single 
principle, which I hold to be not only unquestionable, but decisive of the ques- 
tion as far as the present controversy is concerned. My position is, that, in de- 
ciding which ought to yield, regard must be had to the nature and magnitude 
of the powers to which the laws respectively relate. The low must yield to 
the high ; the convenient to the necessary ; mere accommodation to safety and 
security. This is the universal principle which governs in all analogous cases, 
both in our social and political relations. Wherever the means of enjoying or 
securing rights come into conflict (rights themselves never can), this universal 
and fundamental principle is the one which, by the consent of mankind, gov- 
erns in all such cases. Apply it to the case under consideration, and need I 
ask which ought to yield ? Will any rational being say that the laws of eleven 
states of this Union, which are necessary to their peace, security, and very ex- 
istence, ought to yield to the laws of the General Government regulating the 
postoffice, which, at best, is a mere accommodation and convenience, and this, 
when this government was formed by the states mainly with a view to secure 
more perfectly their peace and safety ? But one answer can be given. All 
must feel that it would be improper for the laws of the states, in such case, to 
yield to those of the General Government, and, of course, that the latter ought 
to yield to the former. When I say ought, I do not mean on the principle of 
concession. I take higher grounds. I mean under the obligation of the Consti- 
tution itself. That instrument does not leave this important question to be de- 
cided by mere inference. It contains an express provision which is decisive 
of the question. I refer to the provision which invests Congress with the pow- 
er of passing laws to carry into effect the granted powers, and which express- 
ly restricts its power to laws necessary and proper to carry into ellect the dele- 
gated powers. We here have the limitation on the power of passing laws. 
They must be necessary and proper. I pass the term necessary with the sin- 
gle remark, that, whatever may be its true and accurate meaning, it clearly in- 
dicates that this important power was granted with the intention of being spa- 
ringly used by the framers of the Constitution. I come to the term proper ; 
and I boldly assert, if it has any meaning at all — if it can be said of any law 
whatever that it is not proper, and that, as such. Congress has no constitution- 
al right to pass it, surely it may be said of that which would abrogate, in fact, 
the laws of nearly half of the states of the Union, and which are conceded to 
be necessary for their peace and safety. If it be proper for Congress to pass 
such a law, what law could possibly be improper ? We have heard much, of 
late, of state rights. All parties profess to respect them, as essential to the 
preservation of our liberty. I do not except the members of the old Federal 
party — that honest, high-minded, patriotic party, though mistaken as to the 
principles and tendency of the government. But what, let me ask, would be 
the value of state rights, if the laws of Congress, in such cases, ought not to 
yield to the states ? If they must be considered paramount, whenever they 
come into conflict with those of the states, without regard to their safety, what 
possible value can be attached to the rights of the states, and how perfectly un- 
meaning their reserved powers ? Surrender the principle, and there is not one 
of the reserved powers which may not be annulled by Congress under the pre- 
text of passing laws to carry into effect the delegated powers. 

The senator from Massachusetts next objects, that, if the principles of the biU 

be admitted, they may be extended to morals and religion. I do not feel bound 
to admit or deny the truth of this assertion ; but if the senator will show me a 
case in which a state has passed laws under its unquestionable reserved powers, 
in protection of its morality or religion, I would hold it to be the duty of the 
General Government to respect the laws of the states, in conformity to the prin- 
ciples which I maintain. 

His next objection is, that the bill is a manifest violation of the liberty of the 
press. He has not thought proper to specify w^herein the violation consists. 
Does he mean to say that the laws of the states prohibiting the introduction and 
circulation of papers calculated to excite insurrection, are in violation of the 
liberty of the press ? Does he mean that the slaveholding states have no right 
to pass such laws ? I cannot suppose such to be his meaning ; for I understood 
him, throughout his remarks, to admit the right of the states — a right which 
they have always exercised, without restriction or limitation, before and since 
the adoption of the Constitution, without ever having been questioned. But 
if this be not his meaning, he must mean that this bill, in making it the duty 
of the officers and agents of the government to respect the laws of the states, 
violates the liberty of the press, and thus involves the old misconception that the 
states are the agents of this government, which pervades the whole argument 
of the senator, and to which I have already replied. 

The senator next objects that the bill makes it penal on deputy postmasters 
to receive the papers and publications which it embraces. I must say, that my 
friend from IMassachusetts (for such I consider him, though we differ in politics) 
has not expressed himself with his usual accuracy on the present occasion. If 
he will turn to the provisions of the bill, he will find that the penahy attaches 
only in cases of knowingly receiving and delivering out the papers and publi- 
cations in question. All the consequences which the senator drew from the 
view which he took of the bill of course fall, and relieves me from the necessity 
of showingthat the deputy postmasters will not be compelled to resort to the 
espionage into letters and packages, in order to exonerate themselves from the 
penalty of the bill, which he supposed. 

The last objection of the senator is, that, under the provision of the bill, every- 
thing touching on the subject of slavery will be prohibited from passing through 
the mail. I again must repeat, that the senator has not expressed himself with 
sufBcient accuracy. The provisions of the bill are limited to the transmission 
of such papers in reference to slavery as are prohibited by the laws of the slave- 
holding states — that is, by eleven states of the Union — leaving the circulation 
through the mail without restriction or qualification as to all other papers, and 
wholly so as to the remaining thirteen states. But the senator seems to think 
that even this restriction, as limited as it is, w-ould be a very great inconveni- 
ence. It may, indeed, prove so to the lawless Abolitionists, who, without regard 
to the obligations of the Constitution, are attempting to scatter their firebrands 
throughout the Union. But is their convenience the only thing to be taken into 
the estimate ? Are the peace, security, and safety of the slaveholding states 
nothing ? or are these to be sacrificed for the accommodation of the Abolition- 
ists ? 

I have now replied directly, fully, and, I trust, successfully to the objections 
to the bill, and shall close what I intended to say by a few general and brief 

We have arrived at a new and important point in reference to the abolition 
question. It is no longer in the hands of quiet and peaceful, but I cannot add, 
harmless Quakers. It is now under the control of ferocious zealots, blinded by 
fanaticism, and, in pursuit of their object, regardless of the obligations of religion 
or morality. They are organized throughout every section of the non-slave- 
holdintr states ; they have the disposition of almost unlimited funds, and are in 
possession of a powerful press, which, for the first time, is enlisted in the cause 


of abolition, and turned against tlie domestic institutions, a"nd the peace and se- 
curity of tlie South. To guard against the danger in this new and more men- 
acing form, tlie slaveholding states will be compelled to revise their laws 
against the introduction and circulation of publications calculated to disturb 
their peace and endanger their security, and to render them far more full and 
efficient than they have heretofore been. In this new state of things, the proba- 
ble conflict between the laws which those states may think proper to adopt, and 
those of the General Government regulating the mail, becomes far more impor- 
tant than in any former state of the controversy ; and Congress is now called 
upon to say what part it will take in reference to this deeply-interesting sub- 
ject. We of the slaveholding states ask nothing of the government but that it 
should abstain from violating laws passed within our acknowledged constitu- 
tional competency, and conceded to be essential to our peace and security. I 
am anxious to see how this question will be decided. I am desirous that my 
constituents should know what they have to expect, either from this govern- 
ment or from the non-slaveholding states. Much that I have said and done 
during the session has been with the view of affording them correct information 
on this point, in order that they might know to what extent they might rely upon 
others, and how far they must depend on themselves. 

Thus far (I say it with regret) our just hopes have not been realized. The 
Legislatures of the South, backed by the voice of their constituents, expressed 
through innumerable meetings, have called upon the non-slaveholding states to 
repress the movements made within the jurisdiction of those states against their 
peace and security. Not a step has been taken ; not a law has been passed, or 
even proposed ; and I venture to assert that none will be : not but what there is 
a favourable disposition towards us in the North, but I clearly see the state of 
political parties there presents insuperable impediments to any legislation on the 
subject. I rest my opinion on the fact that the non-slaveholding states, from the 
elements of their population, are, and will continue to be, divided and distracted 
by parties of nearly equal strength ; and that each will always be ready to seize 
on every movement of the other which may give them the superiority, without 
much regard to consequences as affecting their own states, and much less re- 
mote and distant sections. 

Nor have w-e been less disappointed as to the proceedings of Congress. Be- 
lieving that the General Government has no right or authority over the subject 
of slavery, we had just grounds to hope Congress would refuse all jurisdiction 
in reference to it, in whatever form it might be presented. The very opposite 
course has been pursued. Abolition petitions have not only been received in 
both houses, but received on the most obnoxious and dangerous of all grounds— 
that we are hound to receive them; that is, to take jurisdiction of the question of 
slavery whenever the Abolitionists may think proper to petition for its abolition, 
either here or in the states. 

Thus far, then, we of the slaveholding states have been grievously disappoint- 
ed. One question still remains to be decided — that presented by this bill. To 
refuse to pass this bill would be virtually to co-operate with the Abolitionists — 
would be to make the officers and agents of the postoffice department in efTect 
their agents and abettors in the circulation of their incendiary publications in 
violation of the laws of the states. It is your unquestionable duty, as I have 
demonstrably proved, to abstain from their violation ; and, by refusing or neglect- 
ing to discharge that duty, you would clearly enlist in the existing controversy, 
on the side of the Abolitionists, against the Southern States. Should such be 
your decision by refusing to pass this bill, I shall say to the people of the 
South, look to yourselves — you have nothing to hope from others. But I must 
tell the Senate, be your decision what it may, the South will never abandon the 
principles of this bill. If you refuse co-operation with our laws, and conflict 
should ensue between your and our law, the Southern States will never yield 

to the superiority of yours. We have a remedy in our hands, which, in such 
event, we shall not fail to apply. We have high authority for asserting, that in 
such cases " state interposition is the rightful remedy" — a doctrine first an- 
nounced by Jefferson — adopted by the patriotic and Republican State of Ken- 
tucky, by a solemn resolution in '98, and finally carried out into successful prac- 
tice on a recent occasion, ever to be remembered by the gallant state which I, 
in part, have the honour to represent. In this well-tested and efficient remedy, 
sustained by the principles developed in the report, and asserted in this bill, the 
slaveholding states have an ample protection. Let it be fixed — let it be riveted 
in every Southern mind, that the laws of the slaveholding states for the protec- 
tion of their domestic institutions are paramount to the laws of the General 
Government in regulation of commerce and the mail, and that the latter must 
yield to the former in the event of conflict ; and that,, if the government should 
refuse to yield, the states have a right to interpose, and we are safe. With 
these principles, nothing but concert would be wanting to bid defiance to the 
movements of the Abolitionists, whether at home or abroad ; and to place our 
domestic institutions, and, with them, our security and peace, under our own pro- 
tection, and beyond the reach of danger. 



If the time of the Senate permitted, I should feel it to be my duty to 
call for the reading of the mass of petitions on the table, in order that 
we might know what language they hold towards the slaveholding states 
and their institutions; but as it will not, I have selected indiscriminately 
from the pile, two: one from those in manuscript, and the other from the 
printed ; and, without knowing their contents, will call for ttte reading of 
them, so that we may judge, by them, of the character of the whole. 

(Here the secretary, on the call of Mr. Calhoun, read the two petitions.) 

Such, resumed Mr. C, is the language held towards us and ours; the 
peculiar institutions of the South, that on the maintenance of which the 
very existence of the slaveholding states depends, is pronounced to be 
sinful and odious, in the sight of God and man ; and this with a systematic 
design of rendering us hateful in the eyes of the world, with a view to a 
general crusade against us and our institutions. This, too, in the legis- 
lative halls of the Union ; created by these confederated states for the 
better protection of their peace, their safety, and their respective insti- 
tutions ; and yet we, the representatives of twelve of these sovereign states 
against whom this deadly war is waged, are expected to sit here in silence, 
hearing ourselves and cAir constituents day after day denounced, without 
uttering a word ; if we but open our lips, the charge of agitation is re- 
sounded on all sides, and we are held up as seeking to aggravate the evil 
which we resist. Every reflecting mind must see in all this a state of 
things deeply and dangerously diseased. 

I do not belong, said Mr. C, to the school w^hich holds that aggression 
is to be met by concession. Mine is the opposite creed, which teaches 
that encroachments must be met at the beginning, and that those who act 
on the opposite principle are prepared to become slaves. In this case, in 
particular, I hold concession or compromise to be fatal. If we concede 
an inch, concession would follow concession — compromise would follow 
compromise, until our ranks would be so broken that effectual resistance 
would be impossible. We must meet the enemy on the frontier, with a 



sent to receive,these insulting petitions, and the next demand will be that 
they be referred to a committee, in order that they may be deliberated 
and acted upon. At the last session, we were modestly asked to receive 
them simply to lay them on the table, without any view of ulterior action. 
I then told the senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Buchanan), who strongly 
urged that course in the Senate, that it was a position that could not be 
maintained ; as the argument in favour of acting on the petitions, if we 
were bound to receive, could not be resisted. I then said that the next 
step would be to refer the petition to a committee, and I already see in- 
dications that such is now the intention. If we yield, that will be followed 
by another, and we would thus proceed, step by step, to the final consum- 
mation of the object of these petitions. We are now told that the most 
effectual mode of arresting the progress of abolition is to reason it down 5 
and with this view, it is urged that the petitions ought to be referred to a 
committee. That is the very ground which was taken at the last session 
in the other house ; but, instead of arresting its progress, it has since ad- 
vanced more rapidly than ever. The most unquestionable right may be 
rendered doubtful, if once admitted to be a subject of controversy, and 
that would be the case in the present instance. The subject is beyond 
the jurisdiction of Congress — they have no right to touch it in any shape 
or form, or to make it the subject of deliberation or discussion. 

In opposition to this view, it is urged that Congress is bound by the 
Constitution to receive petitions in every case and on every subject, 
whether within its constitutional competency or not. I hold the doctrine 
to be absurd, and do solemnly believe that it would be as easy to prove 
that it has the right to abolish slavery, as that it is bound to receive peti- 
tions for that purpose. The very existence of the rule that requires a 
question to be put on the reception of petitions, is conclusive to show 
that there isAp such obligation. It has been a standing rule from the 
commencem0t of the goveriyjpent, and clearly shows the sense of those 
who formed the Constitution on this point. The question on the recep- 
tion would be absurd, if, as is contended, we are bound to receive ; but 
I do not intend to argue the question ; I discussed it fully at the last ses- 
sion, and the arguments then advanced neither have nor can be answered. 
As widely as this incendiary spirit has spread, it has not yet infected 
this body, or the great mass of the intelligent and business portion 
of the North ; but unless it be speedily stopped, it will spread and work 
upward till it brings the two great sections of the Union into deadly con- 
flict. This is not a new impression with me. Several years since, in a 
discussion with one of the senators from Massachusetts (Mr. Webster), 
before this fell spirit had showed itself, I then predicted that the doctrine 
of the proclamation and the force bill — that this government had a right, 
in the last resort, to determine the extent of its own powers, and enforce 
it at the point of the bayonet, which was so warmly maintained by that 
senator — would at no distant day arouse the dormant spirit of Aboli- 
tionism ; I told him that the doctrine was tantamount to the assump- 
tion of unlimited power on the part of the government, and that such 
would be the impression on the public mind in a large portion of the 
Union. The consequence would be inevitable — a large portion of the 
Northern States believed slavery to be a sin, and would believe it to be 
an obligation of conscience to abolish it, if they should feel themselves 
in any degree responsible for its continuance, and that his doctrine would 
necessarily lead to the belief of such responsibility. I then predicted 
that it would commence, as it has, with this fanatical portion of society ; 
and that they would begin their operation on the ignorant, the weak, the 

young, and the thoughtless, and would gradually extend upward til] they 
became strong enough to obtain political control, when he, and others 
holding the highest stations in society, would, however reluctant, be 
compelled to yield to their doctrine, or be driven into obscurity. But 
four years have since elapsed, and all this is already in a course of regu- 
lar fulfilment. 

Standing at the point of time at which we have now arrived, it will not 
be more difficult to trace the course of future events now than it was then. 
Those who imagine that the spirit now abroad in the North will die away 
of itself without a shock or convulsion, have formed a very inadequate 
conception of its real character ; it will continue to rise and spread, un- 
less prompt and efficient measures to stay its progress be adopted. Al- 
ready it has taken possession of the pulpit, of the schools, and, to a con- 
siderable extent, of the press j those great instruments by which the mind 
of the rising generation will be formed. 

However sound the great body of the non-slaveholding states are at 
present, in the course of a few years thej^ will be succeeded by those who 
will have been taught to hate the people and institutions of nearly one 
half of this Union, with a hatred more deadlj- than one hostile nation 
ever entertained towards another. It is easy to see the end. By the 
necessary course of events, if left to themselves, we must become, finally, 
two people. It is impossible, under the deadly hatred which must spring 
up between the two great sections, if the present causes are permitted to 
operate unchecked, that we should continue under the same political sys- 
tem. The conflicting elements would burst the Union asunder, as power- 
ful as are the links which hold it together. Abolition and the Union can- 
not coexist. As the friend of the Union, I openly proclaim it, and the 
sooner it is known the better. The former may now be controlled, but 
in a short time it will be beyond the power of man to arrest the course 
of events. We of the South will not, cannot surrender our institutions. 
To maintain the existing relations betweeik the two races Bhabiting that 
section of the Union is indispensable to the peace and happiness of both. 
It cannot be subverted without drenching the country in blood, and extir- 
pating one or the other of the races. Be it good or bad, it has grown up 
with our society and institutions, and is so interwoven with them that to 
destroy it would be to destroy us as a people. But let me not be under- 
stood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations be- 
tween the two races, in the slaveholding states, is an evil : far otherwise ', 
I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be, to both, and 
"will continue to prove so, if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition. 
I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from 
the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized 
and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. It 
came among us in a low, degraded, and savage condition, and, in the 
course of a few generations, it has grown up under the fostering care of 
our institutions, as reviled as they have been, to its present comparative 
civilized condition. This, with the rapid increase of numbers, is conclu- 
sive proof of the general happiness of the race, in spite of all the exag- 
gerated tales to the contrary. 

In the mean time, the white or European race has not degenerated. It 
has kept pace with its brethren in other sections of the Union where sla- 
very does not exist. It is odious to make comparison ; but I appeal to 
all sides whether the South is not equal in virtue, intelligence, patriotism, 
courage, disinterestedness, and all the high qualities which adorn our na- 
ture. I ask whether we have not contributed our full share of talents 
and political wisdom in forming and sustaining this political fabric j and 


whether we have not constantly inclined most strongly to the side of lib- 
erty, and been the first to see, and first to resist, the encroachments of 
power. In one thing only are we inferior — the arts of gain; we acknowl- 
edo-e that we are less wealthy than the Northern section of this Union, 
but I trace this mainly to the fiscal action of this government, which has 
extracted much from, and spent little among us. Had it been the reverse — 
if the exaction had been from the other section, and the expenditure with 

•us this point of superiority would not be against us now, as it was not at 

the formation of this government. 

But I take higher ground. I hold that, in the present state of civiliza- 
tion where two races of different origin, and distinguished by colour, 
and other physical diflerences, as well as intellectual, are brought to- 
gether, the relation now existing in the slaveholding states between the two 
is, instead of an evil, a good — a positive good. I feel myself called upon 
to speak freely upon the subject, where the honour and interests of those 
I represent are involved. I hold, then, that there never has yet existed a 
wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did 
not, in point of fact, live on the labour of the other. Broad and general 
as is this assertion, it is fully borne out by history. This is not the 
proper occasion, but, if it were, it would not be difficult to trace the va- 
rious devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been 
so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has 
been allotted to those by whose labour it was produced, and so large a 
share given to the non-producing class. The devices are almost innu- 
merable, from th'^ brute force and gross superstition of ancient times, to 
the subtle and artful fiscal contrivances of modern. I might well chal- 
lenge a comparison between them and the more direct, simple, and patri- 
archal mode by which the labour o*" the African race is among us com- 
manded by the European. I may say, with truth, that in few countries 
so much is left to the share of the labourer, and so little exacted from 
him, or where there is more kind attention to him in sickness or infirmi- 
ties of ao-e. Compare his condition with the tenants of the poor-houses 
in the most civilized portions of Europe — look at the sick, and the old 
and infirm slave, on one hand, in the midst of his family and friends, un- 
der the kind superintending care of his master and mistress, and compare 
it with the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper in the poor- 
house. But I will not dwell on this aspect of the question: I turn to the 
political ; and here I fearlessly assert, that the existing relation between 
the two races in the South, against which these blind fanatics are waging 
war, forms the most solid and durable foundation on which to rear free 
and stable political institutions. It is useless to disguise the fact. There 
is, and*alvvays has been, in an advanced stage of wealth and civilization, 
a conflict between labour and capital. The condition of society in the 
South exempts us from the disorders and dangers resulting from this con- 
flict ; and which explains why it is that the political condition of the 
slaveholding states has been so much more stable and quiet than those of 
the North. The advantages of the former, in this respect, will become 
more and more manifest, if left undisturbed by interference from without, 
as the country advances in wealth and numbers. We have, in fact, but 
just entered that condition of society where the strength and durability of 
our political institutions are to be tested ; and I venture nothing in pre- 
dicting that the experience of the next generation will fully test how 
vastly more favourable our condition of society is to that of other sec- 
tions for free and stable institutions, provided we are not disturbed by 
the interference of others, or shall have sufficient intelligence and spirit 
to resist promptly and successfully such interference. It rests with our- 

F F 

selves to meet and repel them. I look not for aid to this government, of 
to the other states ; not but there are kind feelings towards us on the 
part of the o-reat body of the non-slaveholding states ; but, as kind as their 
feelino-s may be, we may rest assured that no political party in those 
states'^vill risk their ascendency for our safety. If we do not defend our- 
selves none will defend us ; if we yield, we will be more and more pressed 
as we'recede; and, if we submit, we will be trampled under foot. Be 
assured that emancipation itself would not satisfy these fanatics : that 
gained, the next step would be to raise the negroes to a social and polit- 
ical equality with the whites ; and, that being effected, we would soon find 
the present condition of the two races reversed. They, and their Northern 
allies, would be the masters, and we the slaves ; the condition of the 
white race in the British West India Islands, as bad as it is, would be hap- 
piness to ours ; there the mother-country is interested in sustaining the 
supremacy of the European race. It is true that the authority of the 
former master is destroyed, but the African will there still be a slave, 
not to individuals, but to the community — forced to labour, not by the au- 
thority of the overseer, but by the bayonet of the soldiery and the rod of 
the civil magistrate. 

Surrounded, as the slaveholding states are, with such imminent perils, I 
rejoice to think that our means of defence are ample, if we shall prove 
to have the intelligence and spirit to see and apply them before it is too 
late. All we want is concert, to lay aside all party differences, and unite 
with zeal and energy in repelling approaching dangers. Let there be 
concert of action, and we shall find ample means of security without re- 
sortino- to secession or disunion. I speak with full knowledge and a thor- 
ough examination of the subject, and, for one, see my way clearly. One 
thincr alarms me — the eager pursuit of gain which overspreads the land, 
and which absorbs every faculty of the mind and every feeling of the 
heart. Of all passions, avarice is the most blind and compromising — the 
last to see, and the first to yield to danger. I dare not hope that anything 
I can say will arouse the South to a due sense of danger ; I fear it is be- 
yond the power of mortal voice to awaken it in time from the fatal secu- 
rity into which it has fallen. 



The Senate then proceeded to the consideration of the bill to regtriate the 
deposites of the pubUc money. 

After some words from Mr. Wright in explanation, Mr. Calhoun said : This 
bill, which the senator from New-York proposes to strike out in order to sub- 
stitute his amendment, is no stranger to this body. It was reported at the last 
session by the Select Committee on Executive Patronage, and passed the Sen- 
ate after a full and deliberate investigation, by a mixed vote of all parties, of 
twenty to twelve. As strong as is this presumptive evidence in its favour, I 
would, notwithstanding, readily surrender the bill and adopt the amendment of 
the senator from New-York, if I did not sincerely believe that it is liable to 
strong and decisive objections. I seek no lead on this important subject ; my 
sole aim is to aid in applying a remedy to what I honestly believe to be a deep 
and dangerous disease of the body politic : and I stand prepared to co-operate 
with any one, be he of what party he may, who may propose a remedy, provi- 
ded it shall promise to be safe and efficient. I, in particular, am desirous of co- 


operating with the senator from New-York, not only because I desire the aid 
of his distinguished talents, but, still more, of his decisive influence with the 
powerful party of which he is so distinguished a member, and which now, for 
good or evil, holds the destiny of the country in its hands. It was in this spirit 
that I examined the amendment proposed by the senator ; and I regret to say, 
after a full investigation, I cannot acquiesce in it, as I feel a deep conviction 
that it will be neither safe nor efficient. So far from being substantially the 
same as the bill, as stated by the senator, I cannot but regard it as essentially 
different, both as to objects and means. The objects of the bill are, first, to se- 
cure the public interest as far as it is connected with the deposites ; and, next, 
to protect the banks in which they are made against the inflaence and control 
of the executive branch of this government, with the view both to their and 
the public interest. Compared with the bill, in respect to both, the proposed 
amendment will be found to favour the banks against the people, and the exec- 
utive against the banks. I do not desire the Senate to form their opinion on 
my authority. I wish them to examine for themselves ; and, in order to aid 
them in the examination, I shall now proceed to state, and briefly illustrate, the 
several points of diff"erence between the bill and the proposed amendment, ta- 
king them in the order in which they stand in the bill. 

The first section of the bill provides that the banks shall pay at the rate of 
two per cent, per annum on the deposites for the use of the public money. This 
provision is entirely omitted in the amendment, which proposes to give to the 
banks the use of the money without interest. That the banks ought to pay 
something for the use of the public money, all must agree, whatever diver- 
sity of opinion there may be as to the amount. According to the last return of 
the treasury department, there was, on the first of this month, $45,000,000 of 
public money in the thirty-six depository banks, which they are at liberty to 
use as their own for discount or business, till drawn out for disbursements, au 
event that may not happen for years. In a word, this vast amount is so much 
additional banking capital, giving the same, or nearly the same, profit to those 
institutions as their permanent chartered capital, without rendering any other 
service to the public than paying away, from time to time, the portion that might 
be required for the service of the government. Assuming that the banks real- 
ize a profit of six per cent, on these deposites (it cannot be estimated at less), 
it would give, on the present amount, nearly three millions of dollars per annum, 
and on the probable average public deposites of the year, upward of two mill- 
ions of dollars ; which enormous profit is derived from the public by compara- 
tively few individuals, without any return or charge, except the inconsiderable 
service of paying out the draughts of the treasury when presented. But it is due 
to the senator to acknowledge that his amendment is predicated on the suppo- 
sition that some disposition must be made of the surplus revenue, which would 
leave in the banks a sum not greater than would be requisite to meet the cur- 
rent expenditure : a supposition which necessarily must affect, very materially 
affect, the decision of the question of the amount of compensation the banks 
ought to make to the public for the use of its funds ; but, let the disposition be 
what it may, the omission in the amendment of any compensation whatever is, 
in my opinion, wholly indefensible. 

The next point of difference relates to transfer warrants. The bill prohibits 
the use of transfer warrants, except with a view to disbursement, while the 
amendment leaves them, without regulation, under the sole control of the treas- 
ury department. To understand the importance of this difference, it must be 
borne in mind that the transfer warrants are the lever by which the whole bank- 
ing operations of the country may be controlled through the deposites. By them 
the public money may be transferred from one bank to another, or from one state 
or section of the country to another state or section ; and thus one bank may be 
elevated and another depressed, and a redundant currency created in one state 

or section, and a deficient in another; and, through such redundancy or deii- 
ciency, all the moneyed engagements and business transactions of the whole 
community may be made dependant on the will of one man. With the present 
enormous surplus, it is difficult to assign limits to the extent of this power. The 
secretar}% or the irresponsible agent unknown to the laws, who, rumour says, 
has the direction of this immense power (we are permitted to have no certain 
information), may raise and depress stocks and property of all descriptions at 
his pleasure, by withdrawing from one place and transferring to another, to the 
unlimited gain of those who are in the secret, and certain ruin of those who are 
not. vSuch a field of speculation has never before been opened in any country ; 
a field so great, that the Rothschilds themselves might be tempted to enter it 
■with their immense funds. Nor is the control which it would give over the pol- 
itics of the country much less unlimited. To the same extent that it may be 
used to affect the interests and the fortunes of individuals, to the like extent it 
may be employed as an instrument of political influence and control. I do not 
intend to assert that it has or will be so employed ; it is not essential at pres- 
ent to inquire how it has or will be used. It is sufficient for my purpose to 
show, as I trust I have satisfactorily, that it may be so employed. To guard 
against the abuse of so dangerous a power, the provision was inserted in the 
bill to prohibit the use of transfer warrants, except, as stated, for the purpose of 
disbursement ; the omission of which provision in the amendment is a fatal ob- 
jection to it of itself, were there no other. But it is far from standing alone ; 
the next point of difference will be found to be not less striking and fatal. 

The professed object of both the bill and the amendment is to place the safe- 
keeping of the public moneys under the regulation and control of law, instead 
of being left, as it now is, at the discretion of the executive. However strange 
it may seem, the fact is, nevertheless, so, that the amendment entirely fails to 
effect the object which it is its professed object to accomj^lish. In order that 
it may be distinctly seen that what I state is the case, it will be necessary to 
view^ the provisions of the bill and the amendment in reference to the deposite 
separately, as they relate to the banks in which the public funds are now de- 
posited, and those which may hereafter be selected to receive them. 

The bill commences with the former, Avhich it adopts as banks of deposite^ 
and prescribes the regulations and conditions on the observance of which they 
shall continue such ; while, at the same time, it places them beyond the con- 
trol and influence of the executive department, by placing them under the pro- 
tection of law so long as they continue faithfully to perform their duty as fiscal 
agents of the government. It next authorizes the Secretary of the Treasurj- to 
select, under certain circumstances, additional banks of deposite, as the exigen- 
cy of the public service may requir?, on which it imposes like regulations and 
conditions, and places, in like manner, under the protection of law. In all this 
the amendment pursues a very different course. It l>egins with authorizing the 
secretary to select the banks of deposite, and limits the regulations and condi- 
tions it imposes on such banks ; leaving, by an express provision, the present 
banks wholly under the control of the treasury or the executive department, as 
they now are, without prescribing any time for the selection of other banks of 
deposite, or making it the duty of the secretary so to do. Tlie consequence is 
obvious. The secretary may continue the present banks as long as he pleases ; 
and so long as he may choose to continue them, the provisions of the amend- 
ment, so far as relates to the deposites, will be a dead letter ; and the banks, of 
course, instead of being under the control of the law, will be contrary, as I have 
said, to the professed object both of the bill and amendment — subject exclusive- 
ly to his will. 

The senator has attempted to explain this difference, but, I must say, veiy un- 
satisfactorily. He said that the bill prohibited the selection of other banks ; 
and, as he deemed others to be necessary, at certain important points, in con- 


sequence of the present enormous surplus, he inserted the provision authorizing 
the selection of other banks. The senator has not stated the provisions of the 
bill accurately ; so far from not authorizing, it expressly authorizes the selec- 
tion of other banks where there are now none ; but I presume he intended to 
limit his remarks to places where there are no existing banks of deposite. 
Thus limited, the fact is as he states ^ but it by no means explains the extraor- 
dinary omission (for such I must consider it) of not extending the regulations 
to the existing banks, as well as to those hereafter to be selected. If the public 
service requires additional banks at New-York and other important points, in 
consequence of the vast suras deposited there (as I readily agree it does), if no 
disposition is to be made of the surplus, it is certainly a very good reason for 
enlarging the provisions of the bill, by authorizing the secretary to select other 
banks at those points ; but it is impossible for me to comprehend how it proves 
that the regulations which the amendment proposes to impose should be ex- 
clusively limited to such newly-selected banks. Nor do I see why the senator 
has not observed the same rule, in this case, as that which he adopted in i-efer- 
ence to the compensation the banks ought to pay for the use of the public money. 
He omitted to provide for any compensation, on the ground that his amendment 
proposed to dispose of all the surplus money, leaving in the possession of the 
banks a sum barely sufficient to meet the current expenditure, for the use of 
which he did not consider it right to charge a compensation. On the same 
principle, it was unnecessary to provide for the selection of additional banks 
where there are now banks of deposite, as they would be ample if the surplus 
was disposed of. In this I understood the senator himself to concur. 

But it is not only in the important point of extending the regulations to the 
existing banks of deposite that the bill and the amendment difler. There is a stri- 
king dilference between them in reference to the authority of Congress over the 
banks of deposite embraced both in the bill and the amendment. The latter, fol- 
lowing the provision in the charter of the late Bank of the United States, authorizes 
the secretary to withdraw the public deposites, and to discontinue the use of any 
one of the banks whenever, in his opinion, such bank shall have violated the 
conditions on which it has been employed, or the public funds are not safe in 
its vaults, with the simple restriction, that he shall report the fact to Congress. 
We know, from experience, how slight is the check which this restriction im- 
poses. It not onl);- requires the concurrence of both houses of Congress to 
overrule the act of the secretary, where his power may be improperly exerci- 
sed, but the act of Congress itself, intended to control such exercise of power, 
may be overruled by the veto of the President, at whose will the secretary 
holds his place ; so as to leave the control of the banks virtually under the con- 
trol of the executive department of the government. To obviate this, the bill 
vests the secretary with the power simply of withdrawing the deposites and 
suspending the use of the bank as a place of deposite ; and provides that, 
if Congress shall not confirm the removal, the deposites shall be returned to the 
bank after the termination of the next session of Congress. 

The next point of dilTerence is of far less importance, and is only mentioned as 
tending to illustrate the different character of the bill and the amendment. The 
former provides that the banks of deposite shall perform the duties of commis- 
sioners of loans without compensation, in like manner as was the duty of the 
late Bank of the United States and its branches, under its charter. Among 
these duties is that of paying the pensioners — a very heavy branch of disburse- 
ment, and attended with considerable expense, and which will be saved to the 
government under the bill, but will be lost if the amendment should prevail. 

Another difference remains to be pointed out, relating to the security of the 
deposites. With so large an amount of public money in their vaults, it is im- 
portant that the banks should always be provided with ample means to meet 
their engagements. Wuh tliis view, the bill provides that the specie in the 


vaults of the several banks, and the aggregate of the balance in their favour with 
other specie-paying banks, shall be equal to one fifth of the entire amount of 
their notes and bills in circulation, and their public and private deposites — a 
sum, as is believed, sufficient to keep them in a sound, solvent condition. The 
amendment, on the contrarj^, provides that the banks shall keep in their own 
vaults, or the vaults of other banks, specie equal to one fourth of its notes and 
bills in circulation, and the* balance of its accounts with other banks payable on 

I regret that the senator has thought proper to change the phraseologv, and 
to use terras less clear and explicit than those in the bill. 1 am not certain 
that I comprehend the exact meaning of the provision in the amendment. What 
is meant by specie in the vaults of other banks ? In a general sense, all depos- 
ites are considered as specie ; but I cannot suppose that to be the meaning in 
this instance, as it would render the provision in a great measure inoperative. 
I presume the amendment means special deposites in gold and silver in other 
banks, placed there for safe keeping, or to be drawn on, and not to be used by 
the bank in which it is deposited. Taking that to be the meaning, what is there 
to prevent the same sum from being twice counted in estimating the means of 
the several banks of deposite ? Take two of them, one having S 100,000 in 
specie in its vaults, and the other the same amount in the vaults of the other bank, 
■which, in addition, has, besides, another $100,000 of its own ; what is there to 
prevent the latter from returning, under the amendment, 8200,000 of specie in 
its vaults, while the former would return 8100,000 in its own vaults, and an- 
other in the vaults of the other bank, making, in the aggregate, between them, 
8400,000, when, in reality, the amount in both would be but 8300,000 ? 

But this is not the only difference between the bill and amendment, in this 
particular, deserving of notice. The object of the provision is to compel the 
banks of deposite to have, at all times, ample means to meet their liabilities, so 
that the government should have sufficient assurance that the public moneys in 
their vaults would be forthcoming when demanded. With this view, the bill 
provides that the available means of the bank shall never be less than one fifth 
of its aggregate liabilities, including bills, notes, and deposites, public and pri- 
vate ; while the amendment entirely omits the private deposites, and includes 
only the balance of its deposites with other banks. This omission is the more 
remarkable, inasmuch as the greater jwrtion of the liabilities of the deposite 
banks must, with the present large surplus, result from their deposites, as every 
one who is familiar with banking operations will readily perceive. 

I have now presented to the Senate the several points of difference which I 
deem material between the bill and the amendment, with such remarks as to 
enable them to form their own opinion in reference to the difference, so that they 
may decide hov/ far the assertion is true with which I set out, that, wherever 
they differ, the amendment favours the banks against the interests of the public, 
and the executive against the banks. 

The senator, acting on the supposition that there would be a permanent surplus 
beyond the expenditures of the government, which neither justice nor regard to 
the public interest woidd permit to remain in the banks, has extended the provis- 
ions of his amendment, with great propriety, so as to comprehend a plan to with- 
draw the surplus from the banks. His plan is to vest the commissioners of the 
sinking fund with authority to estimate, at the beginning of every quarter, the 
probable receipts and expenditures of the quarter ; and if, in their opinion, the 
receipts, with the money in the treasury', should exceed the estimated expenditure 
by a certain sum, say 85,000,000, the excess should be vested in state stocks ; 
and if it should fall short of that sum, a sufficient amount of the stocks should 
be sold to make up the deficit. We have thus presented for consideration the 
important subject of the surplus revenue, and with it the question so anxiously 
and universally asked, What shall be done with the surplus? Shall it be ex- 

— ..«.»»r...^„».^^..^„,x^„.trrTn.,»Tmil»»»«M»IWHMllWUUWMHMMIWTm 

pended by the government, or remain where it is, or be disposed of as proposed 
by the senator ? or, if not, what other disposition shall be made of it ? questions, 
the investigation of which necessarily embraces the entire circle of our policy, 
and on the decision of which the future destiny of the country may depend. 

But before we enter on the discussion of this important question, it will be 
proper to ascertain what will be the probable available means of the year, in 
order that some conception may be formed of the probable surplus which jnay 
remain, by comparing it with the appropriations that may be authorized. 

According to the late report of the Secretary of the Treasury, there was de- 
posited in the several banks a little upward of S3.3,000,000 at the termination 
o( the first quarter of the year, not including the sum of about S 3,000,000 de- 
posited by the disbursing agents of the government. The same report stated 
the receipts of the quarter at about $11,000,000, of which lands and customs 
yielded nearly an equal amount. Assuming for the three remaining quarters an 
equal amount, it would give, for the entire receipts o( the year, $44,000,000. 
I agree with the senator, that this sum is too large. The customs will prob- 
ably average an amount throughout the year corresponding with the receipts 
of the first quarter, but there probably will be a considerable falling off in 
the receipts from the public lands. Assuming $7,000,000 as the probable 
amount, which I presume will be ample, the receipts of the year, subtract- 
ing that sura from 544,000,000, will be $37,000,000 ; and subtracting from 
that S 11,000,000, the receipts of the first quarter, would leave $26,000,000 as 
the probable receipts of the last three quarters. Add to this sum 833,000,000, 
the amount in the treasury on the last day of the first quarter, and it gives 
859,000.000. To this add the amount of stock in the United States Bank, which, 
at the market price, is worth at least $7,000,000, and we have $66,000,000, 
which I consider as the least amount at which the probable available means of 
the year can be fairly estimated. It will, probably, very considerably exceed 
this amount. The range may be put down at between $66,000,000 and 
873,000,000, which may be considered as the two extremes between which 
the means of the year may vibrate. But, in order to be safe, I have assumed 
the least of the two. 

The first question which I propose to consider is, Shall this sum be expend- 
ed by the government in the course of the year ? A sura nearly equal to the 
entire debt of the war of the Revolution, by which the liberty and independence 
of these states were established ; raore than five tiraes greater than the expen- 
diture of the government at the commencement of the present administration, 
— deducting the payments on account of the public debt — and more than four 
tiraes greater than the average annual expenditure of the present administration, 
making the same deduction, extravagant as its expenditure has been. The 
very magnitude of the sura decides the question against expenditure. It may 
be wasted, thrown away, but it cannot be expended. There are not objects on 
which to expend it ; for proof of which I appeal to the appropriations already 
made and contemplated. We have passed the navy appropriations, which, as 
liberal as they are admitted to be on all sides, are raised <mly about 82,000,000 
compared with the appropriations of last year. The appropriations for fortifi- 
cations, supposing the bills now pending should pass, will amount to about 
$3, .500,000, and would exceed the ordinary appropriations, assuming them at 
$1,000,000, which I hold to be ample, by 82,500,000. Add a million for ord- 
nance, seven or eight for Indian treaties, and four for Indian wars, and suppo- 
sing the companies of the regular army to be fill